Fernando Hierro is out as Spain head coach and declined to return to his role as sporting director of the national team after the country’s disappointing World Cup campaign, the Spanish football federation announced Sunday.
The 50-year-old Hierro was appointed to the coaching role on a temporary basis after the Spanish FA dismissed Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup. Lopetegui’s firing occurred after he accepted Real Madrid’s offer to become manager.
In the World Cup, Spain managed to get past the group stage before bowing out with a stunning loss to host Russia on penalties in the round of 16.
Sunday’s announcement, as translated by the Independent, stated that Hierro, a former Real Madrid defender, will leave the Spanish FA in order to “seek new horizons and undertake new professional challenges.”
The statement added: “The Federation wants to highlight the professional and human values of an extraordinary athlete. Thanks for everything, Fernando!”
(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)
Hierro had taken over for Lopetegui, who was named manager of the national team in 2016 when he succeeded Vicente del Bosque, who won the World Cup and European Championship during an eight-year spell. Spain remained unbeaten throughout Lopetegui’s reign, but his decision to accept the role with Real Madrid cost him a chance to manage at the World Cup as the FA announced his dismissal two days before the first group stage match.
In Hierro’s debut, Spain opened the World Cup with a 3-3 draw against Portugal. But the team then failed to produce convincing performances against Iran and Morocco before being eliminated by Russia.
“We all tried to give it our best but that’s football,” Hierro said after the loss, according to Sports Illustrated.
“I don’t think you can talk about the team breaking down or collapsing. There’s a fine line between winning and losing.”