Just two weeks after Zinedine Zidane stepped down, Julen Lopetegui has been named as his Real Madrid replacement. The current Spain coach will join the Champions League winners after the upcoming World Cup.Lopetegui, 51, has signed a three-year deal with the Spanish club with his stint beginning after he’s coached his home nation in Russia. Spain open their campaign with a clash against Portugal in Sochi on Friday.
The former goalkeeper spent a season as coach of Real’s B-team a decade ago, before taking over as Spain Under-19 manager in 2010 and will replace Zidane, whose shock resignation just days after a third successive Champions League final win created a vacancy.
After taking the Spain job in 2016 after the 2010 World Champions were eliminated in the last 16 of the Euros, Lopetugi recently signed a new deal which was designed to take him through to 2020, but the pull of Real seems to have been too strong.
“Real Madrid announce that Julen Lopetegui will be the coach of the first team during the next three seasons. Julen Lopetegui will join the club after Spain’s participation in the World Cup, after two years leading the national team,” Real said in a statement.
Lopetegui enjoyed success with the country’s youth sides, winning the 2012 Under-19 European Championship before repeating the feat as Under-21 boss 12 months later.
The senior national team have gone 20 games unbeaten under Lopetegui but his record as a club boss is less impressive. He was sacked from a brief spell in charge of Rayo Vallecano in Spain’s second division in 2003 and left Portuguese club Porto after failing to win any silverware from 2014-16.