Fernando Hierro has taken charge of the Spanish national team in the wake of the shock decision to sack Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup.
Amid the chaos around Lopetegui’s departure on Friday morning, the 50-year-old former Real Madrid captain was asked to step in from his role as sporting director at the Spanish FA to take over ahead of their tournament opener against Portugal in Sochi on Friday evening.
Lopetegui was sacked after agreeing to become Real’s new manager following the World Cup without notifying the Spanish FA, according to president Luis Rubiales.Senior players in the Spanish squad pleaded with Rubiales to retain Lopetegui or risk destabilising their tournament, but the decision was taken to remove the manager the day before their Group B campaign begins.
Hierro has coaching experience as an assistant under Carlo Ancelotti at the Bernebeu, before he took over at Oviedo in the Segunda Division for the 2016-17 season. He took over as sporting director at the Spanish FA in November 2017, having already completed a four-year stint in the role between 2007 and 2011.
In a statement, the Spanish FA said: “Fernando Hierro will assume the position of national coach at the World Cup in Russia and will appear before the media accompanied by the president of the RFEF, Luis Rubiales [on Wednesday evening].
“Next, he will direct his first training and on Friday he will debut in Sochi at the opener of Spain against Portugal.”