New Spain soccer coach Julen Lopetegui plots evolution, not revolution

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 July, 2016, 11:05am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 July, 2016, 11:05am

New coach Julen Lopetegui wants Spain to go through an “evolution” not a “revolution” as he tries to bring the good times back to the former world soccer champions.

The 49-year-old was put in charge on Thursday, signing a two-year contract, and will lead the team as they attempt to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

“This appointment fills me with pride and is a huge responsibility I happily take,” Lopetegui told a news conference.

“We are not going to throw away the many wonderful things this national team has given us. We are very proud of the past but we are looking at the present and the future.

“We are not going to do a revolution but an evolution based on our ideas,” added Lopetegui. “There are players in the squad that are in their prime, many of them...we are going to bring back the enthusiasm to the people.”

Lopetegui praised predecessor Vicente del Bosque who coached Spain for eight years before stepping down after Euro 2016.

Spain were knocked out in the first round of the World Cup in Brazil two years ago and lost to Italy in the last 16 of Euro 2016.

Del Bosque led the team to their first World Cup title triumph in 2010 as well as the European Championship crown two years later.

“There is no better mirror to look at than that of Vicente del Bosque,” Lopetegui said. “He has done an exemplary job and has set the bar very high.”

He added that he plans to call on most of the players used by Del Bosque but will open the door to emerging talent.

Lopetegui guided Spain’s team to title success in the 2012 European Under-19 Championship and the 2013 Under-21 equivalent.

Spanish football federation president Angel Maria Villar said: “I’m certain we will have a lot of success under Julen Lopetegui”.

The new coach led Porto from May 2014 until January this year when he was dismissed following their Champions League exit.

A former goalkeeper, Lopetegui was part of Spain’s 1994 World Cup squad but did not play.

“I played just once for Spain but I lived it intensely and that is the fondest memory I have of my football career,” he said.

Spain begin their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign at home to Liechtenstein on September 5.