Real Madrid have announced Spain’s Julen Lopetegui will succeed Zinedine Zidane as head coach after the World Cup.
Zidane surprisingly stepped down after presiding over a third successive Champions League triumph, citing his doubts about the team being able to continue such a remarkable run as the main reason for leaving.
Mauricio Pochettino of Tottenham quickly emerged as a favourite, though his recent contract renewal seemed to make such a move improbable.
Speculation soon went quiet about Madrid’s search as attentions were turned towards the World Cup, but they have made something of a surprise announcement on Tuesday in confirming the appointment of Lopetegui upon the completion of Spain’s campaign in Russia.
Lopetegui, who came through the Madrid ranks as a player, has signed a three-year deal at the club after impressing in charge of the Spain senior side.
The 51-year-old was hired by the Spanish Football Federation after Euro 2016, when the side were eliminated in the round of 16 by Italy.
Since then Lopetegui has managed to restore belief in the senior national team ahead of the World Cup and is yet to lose while at the helm. He was rewarded with a two-year extension in May and had been under contract until 2020.
Lopetegui’s coaching career has predominantly centred on international football, having enjoyed spells in charge of Spain’s Under-17s, Under-19s, Under-20s and Under-21s.
His last club role saw him hired by Porto in 2014 and he lasted two years, though it was not considered to be a successful era at the club, as they failed to win any trophies under his guidance despite spending a significant amount of money.