In what has been has been a dramatic day for Spanish football, the Country's FA chose to remove Lopetegui from his position as they were furious that he had agreed to replace Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid next season on the eve of the World Cup, after previously committing his future to the national team.
"But, after five minutes, I saw it in the press and we had to react".
The Spanish Football Association president, Luis Rubiales, was supposed to be at Fifa's congress in Moscow on Wednesday but flew to Spain's training base late on Tuesday night to deal with the matter. "It is a hard and painful situation, we would have liked to finish here with Julen at the top, but we have not determined the way we act". We have been obliged to make this decision. "What the Spanish team achieves, will have to do with the work he has developed", Rubiales told reporters at a press conference in Krasnodar.
Lopetegui was appointed Spain coach in July 2016 and never tasted defeat in the job, leading the team through 20 unbeaten games ahead of the World Cup.
The daunting task of refocusing the team on Friday's match against European champion Portugal is now on Hierro's shoulders. "It wasn't an easy situation but I think he did the right thing". The team is excited, we have a great opportunity and that must be the focus.
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There was widespread anger among Spanish media and fans at the timing of the announcement on the eve of the tournament, with hopes high that a revitalised side could reach the heights of three consecutive major tournament wins between 2008 and 2012, including the country's only World Cup win in 2010.
And he may hold his first press conference at 5.30pm BST, while the first game of the World Cup between Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia is still being played.
Hierro was formerly a defender for Real Madrid and finished playing soccer with the English club Bolton in 2005.
"I admire and respect Lopetegui a lot".
Lopetegui was sensationally axed on Wednesday just 24 hours after it was announced he would take over at the Bernabeu following the World Cup. The players, especially captain Sergio Ramos, tried to convince Rubiales, who made the decision. Lopetegui had to handle his stars diplomatically and help defuse the issue with kid gloves as his team roared to a tremendous qualifying campaign - with a no-loss record. But the values of the federation come first.
"If I was not convinced we could have a good World Cup I would not be here", he said.
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