Madrid, June 13 – Spain manager Julen Lopetegui was named by Real Madrid as Zinedine Zidane’s successor on Tuesday.
Zidane, who led the club to three successive Champions League titles, surprised the sporting world when he stepped down in May.
Lopetegui previously managed Porto for two years, before taking over at the Spanish national team in July 2016. The 51-year-old will take up the position after the World Cup, which begins on 14 June.
A former goalkeeper, Lopetegui made one senior appearance for Real Madrid but played 107 matches for Logrones.
He began coaching in 2003 as assistant manager to Spain’s Under-17 team. He managed Spain at Under-19, Under-20 and Under-21 levels before moving to Porto.
Real finished third in La Liga last season, 17 points behind champions Barcelona.
However, what awaits the club’s former player and reserve team coach when he takes over after the World Cup in Russia?
The biggest issue has to be concerning keeping talisman Cristiano Ronaldo.
The dust had barely settled on Real’s third-consecutive Champions League win last month when Ronaldo declared:
“It has been beautiful to play for Real Madrid,” sparking fears within the La Liga side that he had decided to leave.
While still at the club, local media report that he remains unhappy and that promises made to him have not been fulfilled.
However, it is not the first time he has threatened to leave the club.
“Cristiano is one of the best players of all-time, there’s no doubt about it,” Lopetegui said in a recent interview.
Whether his admiration for the player will be enough to keep him there remains to be seen. (Reuters)