Spanish federation president Luis Rubiales has revealed that Newcastle offered the opportunity to take Rafa Benitez as their coach for this year’s World Cup after Julen Lopetegui’s sacking.
Lopetegui was given his marching orders on the eve of said competition in June after accepting an offer to become Real Madrid boss, with Fernando Hierro stepping up to take charge in the wake of his departure.
Spain ultimately bowed out in the round of 16 to hosts Russia, losing on a penalty shootout.
“When I sacked Julen I immediately called Hierro and told him I didn’t want to make any changes. Two days later a letter arrived from Newcastle saying ‘Are you interested in our coach? He’s at your disposition.’ We said thanks but no,” Rubiales said via Spanish radio station Cadena COPE (via Chronicle Live).
“We would have never done that, we couldn’t hire Benitez because it would have been acting in the same way for which we reproached Julen.”
The Spanish Federation has faced lots of criticism over Lopetegui’s firing, as it had a huge effect on the squad. Yet Rubiales has no regrets, also claiming to have the backing of former United States president Barrack Obama, whom he recently met at a conference in Madrid.
“I had a conversation with Obama and he mentioned the sacking of Lopetegui,” Rubiales continued.
“He told me that when you do not act you get criticised less but sometimes you have to act, and he had taken similar decisions to the one we took with Lopetegui.”