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Published: 11:56 | 13/6/18

Spain sack head coach Lopetegui two days before World Cup opener

Spain have sacked head coach Julen Lopetegui just two days before their World Cup opener after it was revealed on Monday he would take over at Real Madrid next season.

Spain sporting director Fernando Hierro has been put in temporary charge for the World Cup.

Rubiales claimed he was told about Lopetegui's intentions just five minutes before it was made public and reports in Spain said he felt "betrayed" by the 53-year-old.

La Roja open their 2018 World Cup finals account against Portugal in Sochi on Friday with Hierro and Spain Under-21 coach filling the breach.

"We have decided to fire the national coach,” Rubiales told a press conference in Moscow. “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 [Monday's announcement] that he was leaving for Madrid.

"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."

it is understood that all six of the Real Madrid players in the Spanish squad knew in advance about Lopetegui's decision to replace Zinedine Zidane at the 12-times Champions League winners.

A decision was taken by Los Blancos to make it public ahead of the World Cup after fears that it would be leaked to the press. Reports suggest a member of the squad, who does not play for Real Madrid, had learned about the decision.

"I know it's a very difficult situation," added Rubiales. "I know there's going to be criticism whatever I do.

"I'm sure this will, in time, make us stronger. I admire Julen very much, I respect him very much. He seems a top trainer and that makes it harder to make the decision."

Image: Getty Images/ Epsilon

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