The last 48 hours are likely to be the most turbulent of Julen Lopetegui’s career, possibly his life even.
On Tuesday morning he was still with the Spain squad in Russia, preparing them for their World Cup opener against Portugal as they looked start the campaign on a strong footing. Cut to Thursday evening, and the former Porto boss was sitting next to Florentino Perez at a press conference in Madrid, being introduced as Real’s new manager.
— #CHAMP13NS ???? (@realmadriden) June 14, 2018
In the interim period, it had been confirmed that Lopetegui had been appointed as the new Real manager, with his duties to begin once his World Cup commitments with Spain had come to an end.
Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales took the way in which all of this business had been conducted as an affront to the association and Spanish national setup as a whole, and fired the manager in a flurry of drama on Wednesday morning. Fernando Hierro was selected as his replacement hours later, and the former Real and Bolton defender will now be entrusted with La Roja’s assault on the trophy.
Speaking to reporters, Lopetegui said Thursday that the day that he was sacked as Spain coach was the “saddest” since the death of his mother as he was officially unveiled as Zinedine Zidane’s successor at the Bernabeu
“Yesterday was the saddest day of my life since the death of my mother. But today is the happiest day of my life.
“It was a surreal day.
“One of the nice things was the respect and affection shown to me by the players. I think respect is earned and we earned it. Me and my staff worked really hard, and they (Spanish FA) took our dream away from us.
“They, the players, have a great challenge ahead. They’re well prepared and hopefully we have that little bit of luck needed to win the World Cup.”
Having been expected to take the reins after the World Cup campaign, Lopetegui will now take up his new role immediately and set about succeeding the most successful manager in modern Real Madrid history.
No pressure, then.