World Cup 2018: Spain appoint Hierro after firing Lopetegui on eve of World Cup

Hierro to replace sacked Lopetegui as Spain manager

Spain have named sporting director Fernando Hierro as manager following the dismissal of Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup.

In what seemed a hammer blow to their World Cup hopes, the Spanish FA sacked head coach Lopetegui on Wednesday after the manager agreed to take up the vacant Real Madrid post.

That role was set to start after the tournament, but the Royal Spanish Football Federation were left displeased by his actions.

Julen Lopetegui stands by the bench during the international friendly between Spain and Costa Rica last November. (AP)

They acted swiftly to replace him appointing Hierro, the current Sporting Director, whose last job as coach was at second tier side Real Oviedo. Alberto Celades is likely to be his assistant.

The late managerial switch will raise questions over Spain’s preparations for the World Cup, with their first match against Portugal on Friday.

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Lopetegui, 51, led Spain to the World Cup without having lost a match but will now not see them through the biggest tournament in the sport.

Los Blancos then confirmed his appointment earlier this week, and after a morning rife with rumours over the Spaniard’s future, he was fired from his post.

Luis Rubiales, president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, said at the time: “We have to 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.

“The Spanish national team is the team of all the Spaniards. We only found out just five minutes before that he was leaving for Madrid.

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“There is a way that you must act, Julen has worked in a great way with the team, but we cannot accept how he has acted in this case.

“I have spoken with the players and I can guarantee they will do everything, along with the new coach, to take the team as far as possible [at this WC].”

Fernando Hierro

The Spain technical director, Hierro is best known for his trophy-laden career with Real Madrid.

The defender played more than 500 times for the club and also won 89 caps for his country.

He won the LaLiga title on five occasions and the Champions League three times before going on to play for Bolton and coach Spanish club Oviedo.

He will line up alongside Celades.