The Spanish Football Federation have sensationally sacked national team manager Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup.
The news follows the 51-year-old’s appointment as the new Real Madrid head coach just 24 hours ago.
It is understood that Lopetegui had an agreement with the Spanish FA to officially take over the European champions upon the conclusion of Spain’s World Cup campaign.
Lopetegui behaviour "unacceptable"
Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales claimed Lopetegui’s behaviour in the build-up to the World Cup in Russia had been “unacceptable”. Speaking in a press conference on Wednesday morning, Rubiales said: “We have decided to fire the national coach (Lopetegui). What we have achieved in getting here is due in great part to him and we must thank him and wish him luck.
“We only found out just five minutes before [it was announced] that he was leaving for Madrid. There is a way you must act, Julen has worked in a great way with the team but we cannot accept how he has acted in this case.”
Rubiales did not name a replacement but it is believed that sporting director Fernando Hierro and under-21 coach Albert Celades would be prepared to step up for Spain’s opening game against Portugal on Friday.
It is understood that many of La Roja’s squad were unhappy with the sacking, particularly the Real Madrid stars including Sergio Ramos.
Lopetegui ends his reign as Spain boss with an impressive record of never losing in his 20 games in charge. The former Real Madrid goalkeeper won 14 matches and drew the remaining six.
La Roja topped their World Cup qualifying group, finishing five points ahead of runners-up Italy. They won nine of their 10 qualifying matches and drew away to the Azzurri in October 2016.