Real Madrid have announced that Spanish national team coach Julen Lopetegui will take over as their manager after the World Cup in Russia.
In a brief statement to announce the appointment, the Madrid giants said Lopetegui had been appointed on a three-year contract. Lopetegui is currently in Russia preparing the Spanish squad for the World Cup. Real have announced that after the tournament he will take over at the Bernabeu, stepping into the role that Zidane Zidane vacated following his shock departure at the end of May – just days after guiding Real to a third consecutive Champions League title.
Lopetegui, 51, has been in charge of the Spanish national team since July 2016, when he took the reins following the European Championship in France.
He previously had a spell as manager of Porto, as well as with the Spanish national youth team set-up and at Real’s B team.
Lopetegui is a surprise appointment as he was not one of the names widely touted to be Zidane’s replacement.
He will have a tough act to follow, after Zinedine Zidane won an unprecedented three Champions League titles in a row, as well as a La Liga title, two UEFA Super Cups and two FIFA World Club Cups during his two years in charge.
Lopetegui’s playing career included a spell at Real, although he made just one appearance and was mainly loaned out to Las Palmas.
He has been praised for his coaching work with the Spanish youth teams, as well as his spell so far with the senior national team.
Spain qualified for Russia 2018 with relative ease, topping a group containing Italy. They head into the World Cup as among the favorites to win a title they claimed in 2010, and are on a 20-game unbeaten run.
They face a World Cup group containing Iberian rivals Portugal, as well as Morocco and Iran. They kick off their campaign against the Portuguese in Sochi on Friday.