Real Madrid unveiled their new boss on Thursday, a day on when he should have been gearing up for Spain’s World Cup opener against Portugal.
Julen Lopetegui has been hired by Los Blancos as Zinedine Zidane’s replacement in one of the most controversial managerial appointments of all time, something which prompted Spain to subsequently fire him as theirs just a day before the 2018 World Cup kicked off.
The Spaniard was presented to the press this Thursday and expressed immense pleasure in his new role, while insisting that he was unhappy over the way things went down with the Spanish Federation.
“It’s a day to be excited, thank you, President, thank you, Real Madrid, for the trust and responsibility, I know I’m coming to Madrid, not everything is worth it here, we’re going to fight to keep up with the club and even improve it,” Lopetegui said (H/T Marca).
“I feel qualified and that force that accompanies Real Madrid. We want to win everything and we will aspire to achieve it.”
The former Spain boss also claimed that he’s now a happy man after having to deal with the disappointment of getting sacked, and promised to cheer for his country when they take the field against the Euro 2016 winners on Friday.
“Yesterday was the saddest day of my life since the death of my mother,” he continued. “But today is the happiest day of my life.
“Tomorrow I will cheer like a Spaniard, they are going to make a great World Cup and I feel part of that team.”
Madrid president Florentino Perez presented the new boss, also insisting that the club would have preferred to announce Lopetegui as their manager after the World Cup, but were left with little choice due to certain circumstances. He also noted that the coach could have performed a dual role with little issue had he been kept by the Spanish national side.
“We wanted to do it after the World Cup, but a series of circumstances have made us here and with the illusion of a new stage,” he explained. “It is a great satisfaction to present someone who knows this club perfectly.
“I know it’s a day for you with conflicting feelings because I know you dreamed about the World Cup, you had two dreams and they were perfectly compatible: winning the World Cup with Spain and training Real Madrid.”
Lopetegui, though, seemed to point out that managing Cristiano Ronaldo, whom he proclaimed to be the best player in the world, was a huge selling point for him during negotiations.
“Cristiano is the player I want to be by my side always,” he remarked. “Evidently the best in the world is in Real Madrid, without a doubt.”
The recent developments have cast a lot of doubt on La Roja‘s chances at the tournament in Russia, yet many believe that it could have a positive effect on the players and prompt a closer bond that could see them repeat their 2010 feat.