Julen Lopetegui’s replacement, Fernando Hierro has revealed the first conversation he had with his players as Spain begin their 2018 World Cup campaign.
The Spanish FA, on Wednesday, took the decision to replace Julen Lopetegui for accepting to join LaLiga giants, Real Madrid.
Hierro, at his introductory press conference, said he and the squad agreed that they must focus on Friday’s clash with Portugal.
“It is a nice challenge and an exciting one. The circumstances are what they are and from now on I accept the responsibility bravely, it can’t be any other way”, Marca quoted him as saying.
“We have a group of players who have been together for two years to work towards the World Cup and I have been sporting director, so I understand the motivation is huge.
“We cannot alter two years of hard work in the coming days. Many of the staff are still with us and we’ve watched videos about the upcoming match, so we have to be intelligent and coherent.
“From now until the Portugal match, we don’t have the ability to change much. I have been at all the other training sessions and have been present day to day.
Asked what was said by the players when they were informed of the change, Hierro disclosed that they told him they were still excited and motivated.
“I told the players that I can look them all in the eyes. I am very calm and there is no reason to not fight for what we came for.
“The squad is motivated and we have a great opportunity, so the focus has to be on what we came for, which is to fight for the World Cup.
“We cannot let these two days become an excuse. The priority is to focus on sporting matters. The players are excellent professionals and good and mature people.”
Hierro, however, thanked Lopetegui for his efforts in qualifying the team for the tournament.
“I have the maximum admiration and care for Julen [Lopetegui] for the work he has done these two years and I wish him all the best on his new adventure,” he said.
“We have known each other for a long time and I was with him after his decision, he called me to say goodbye.”