Fernando Hierro has called on the Spanish team to immediately move on from the shock departure of Julen Lopetegui, saying they have ‘no time to mourn’ if they are to compete for the World Cup.
The 50-year-old addressed the media at their World Cup base in Krasnodar for the first time since being appointed Spain’s new head coach, replacing Lopetegui after his sacking on Wednesday morning.
And while he was keen to wish Lopetegui all the best for the future, Hierro insisted that Spain’s World Cup hopes will hinge on their ability to move on from the controversy in time for their opening game against Portugal on Friday.
Spanish football president Luis Rubiales, right, poses with Spain’s new coach Fernando Hierro
Hierro called on the Spanish players to forget the controversy and focus on the World Cup
FERNANDO HIERRO -CAREER FACTFILE
Teams played for:
Real Valladolid – 1987-89
Real Madrid – 1989-2003
Al Rayyan – 2003-04
Bolton – 2004-05
Real Madrid (assistant) – 2014-15
Oviedo – 2016-17
Spain – 88 caps (1989-2002)
Hierro said: ‘We have no time to mourn. We will overcome this. We’ve come to fight for the World Cup. The team is excited, we have a great opportunity and that must be the focus.’
‘We have to be positive, opinions are not valid here, we have to turn the page, be positive, think about the players in the delegation and what we represent.’
Lopetegui was dismissed on Wednesday by Spanish football chiefs who were left furious by his decision to join Real Madrid ahead of the tournament.
The 51-year-old was announced as Zinedine Zidane’s replacement on Tuesday evening.
He was then out of his current role just hours later, only to be replaced by a man who played 584 matches for Los Blancos.
Asked how he decided to take the high-stakes role with no time to prepare, he responded: ‘If I was not convinced of our chances, I would not be here.
Hierro addresses the media at Spain’s World Cup base in Krasnodar on Wednesday evening
Spanish football president Rubiales thanked Hierro for stepping up to help the national team
‘When the president told me about the possibility, there were three options. One was to say no, one was to leave, the third was to be present, to take a step forward for the Spanish FA and Spanish football.’
Head of the Spanish FA, Luis Rubiales: said: ‘Hierro told me he is ready to help Spain, he’s been very generous, I want to thank him for that. We have encountered a difficulty that we are going to overcome, I am sure of it.’
Hierro enjoyed an 18 year professional career, winning three Champions League winner’s medals and five La Liga titles during more than a decade at Madrid.
He began his career at Real Valladolid, where he spent two seasons in the first team before moving to the Spanish capital. Having won it all with Madrid, Hierro opted for a change of scenery in 2003, joining Al Rayann in Qatar.
His appointment comes after Spain hastily called a press conference as reports emerged that Rubiales was outraged by the timing of Lopetegui’s announcement.
The ex-Spain international has replaced Julen Lopetegui (c) who was sacked on Wednesday
Following a bizarre morning, during which the Spanish players pleaded with Rubiales to keep Lopetegui in charge, it was decided that the manager’s position had become untenable.
‘We thank Julen for all he has done because he is one of the great people responsible for us being in Russia, but we are forced to dismiss him,’ said Rubiales during Wednesday’s press conference.
‘I do not feel betrayed, the problem is how things have been done with the total absence of participation of the Spanish Football Federation, that is something we cannot ignore, Lopetegui is an impeccable professional but the process is important.
‘The negotiations [between Lopetegui and Real Madrid] have occurred without any information to the Spanish FA and we were informed just five minutes before the press release. There’s a way to act that needs to be fulfilled.’
Lopetegui was axed after joining Real Madrid, for whom Hierro played more than 500 games