5 things you need to know about Madrid's new boss Julen Lopetegui

By Mirror: Wednesday, June 13th 2018 at 11:03 GMT +3 | Gossip & Rumours
The Spaniard was the shock choice [Photo: Courtesy]

Well not many people saw that coming.

With Spain preparing for their first World Cup match against Portugal in Sochi on Friday night, Real Madrid have gone and announced that La Roja’s coach will be their new boss.

In a surprise move, Julen Lopetegui will take over from Zinedine Zidane after the tournament in Russia, as announced on the Real website on Tuesday afternoon.

Zidane leaves after winning three Champions Leagues [Photo: Courtesy]

But what do you know about Real's new man?

Here are five facts about him.

1. He used to play for them

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The goalkeeper only played one first-team game [Photo: Courtesy]

A former goalkeeper, Lopetegui joined Real Madrid Castilla from Real Sociedad in 1985 at the age of the 19, linking up with the side's highly successful youth setep.

He was promoted to the first team ranks but failed to dislodge the veteran stopper Luis Arconada, instead going on loan to Las Palmas.

He played one game for the Real first team, in a 3-3 draw against Atletico Madrid when Los Blancos had already won the title in the 1989/90 season.

2. But he played for Barcelona too

But he played five for Barca [Photo: Courtesy]

The majority of his goalkeeping career was played at Logrones and Rayo Vallecano, but he had three years at Barcelona in the mid-1990s.

He only played five La Liga games during that time though, losing his battle for the No. 1 jersey with Carles Busquets, the father of Sergio.

Lopetegui also won his one and only Spain cap in 1994, in a 2-0 friendly loss to Croatia.

3. He's coached there before

He has Real Madrid coaching experience [Photo: Courtesy]

Lopetegui took charge of Real Madrid's B team in the 2008/09 season, after spells with Spain's under 17s and Rayo Vallecano.

He guided them to sixth place in Group 2 of the Segunda Division, largely thanks to 16 goals apiece from Alberto Bueno, later of Derby County, and Adam Szalai, a current star of the Hungary team.

4. He's a double European champion

Thiago was a key player in Lopetegui's sides [Photo: Courtesy]

After that he moved on the Spanish youth setup, coaching Spain's Under 19s, 20s and 21s.

The 19s impressed everyone on the way to winning the European Under-19s Championship in 2012, with Jese Rodriguez top scorer on five goals and Saul Niguez, Gerard Deulofeu and Suso all starring.

A year later, he won the European Under 21 Championships with star studded side, featuring Alvaro Morata, Isco, Koke, David de Gea and Thiago Alcantara, who scored a hat-trick in the final against Italy.

He then had two years at Porto, failing to win a trophy.

5. He could have been Wolves manager

He could have ended up at Molineux [Photo: Courtesy]

After leaving Porto in 2016, Lopetegui was the chosen selection by Wolves’ new owners Fosun International to take charge at Molineux.

As the Chinese Conglomerate sought to take Wanderers in a different direction, they replaced then-boss Kenny Jackett and were in regular contact with Lopetegui.

Lopetegui admitted that he was keen, later stating: ""It was very close but in the end it wasn't to be. Wolves is a great club, where there would be significant investment and a desire to grow, to shine again.”

The reason it wasn’t to be, simply, was because La Roja came calling.

After being dumped out of Euro 2016 by Italy at the second round stage, the Spanish federation parted ways with Vicente del Bosque and hired Lopetegui, who had previously enjoyed great success at youth level.

"When the federation called, naturally my objective became the national team.”

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