New Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui has promised to meet the high expectations of “the best and the most demanding club in the world”.
The 51-year-old former keeper, who made a single LaLiga appearance for the club after cutting his teeth in its B team, Castilla, was a surprise appointment as Zinedine Zidane’s replacement, but insists he knows exactly what he has taken on.
In a video posted on the club’s official Twitter feed, Lopetegui said: “Coming back at the manager of the first team is a tremendous feeling. It requires responsibility, but it is also very exciting and emotional.
“I know that I am joining the best and the most demanding club in the world and I am convinced that I can meet these high expectations.
“Now we’ll start preparing for our first trophy, the UEFA Super Cup on August 15.”
Lopetegui, whose spell as Spain boss ended abruptly two days before their World Cup opener after his impending departure for Real was announced, first arrived at the club as a teenager but having found his opportunities limited, left for Logrones and had spells at Barcelona and Rayo Vallecano.
He launched his coaching career in the national team’s youth set-up and after a time in charge at Rayo, returned to Madrid to take charge of Castilla.
But it was with Spain, where he led his country to European Championship glory at Under-19 and Under-21 levels before taking over the senior team following a spell at Porto, that he made his name.
However, he has never forgotten the lessons he learned at Real.
He said: “I have been through a lot with the club and this last stage closes the circle. I know Real Madrid well, its spirit, what Madridismo is all about and the demands of the club. I think it is very important that I do.
“There is a lot of pride associated with Madridismo and held by the Madridistas. We coaches can’t hide from that reality and I’ll try to instil the feelings that a Real Madrid player should feel.
“There are many players who have been here for a number of years, so they already have this feeling within them and pass it on to the others.”
Lopetegui inherits a squad packed with world-class players despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure for Juventus, and is intent on improving a side which won a third successive Champions League title last season, but finished third in the league, a full 17 points adrift of arch-rivals Barca.
He said: “I am a person who wants to constantly improve and I try to pass that on to my teams. We all have to want to improve because we are all capable of improving.
“Wanting to improve all the time is a fantastic way to be. It is important to want to be the best player, the best coach and the best team.
“We have a very good squad and we are making tweaks and finding solutions at the moment. We will have a brilliant group of players. They will be ready to go and prepared for all the challenges ahead.”
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