Real Madrid have announced the appointment of Spain manager Julen Lopetegui as their next head coach.
The 51-year-old will take over the European champions after this summer’s World Cup in Russia having agreed a three-year deal at the Bernabeu.
Lopetegui will succeed Zinedine Zidane, who resigned five days after guiding Real to a third successive Champions League victory last month.
A statement on the club’s website read: “Real Madrid CF announces that Julen Lopetegui will be the coach of the first team during the next three seasons.
“Julen Lopetegui will join the club after the participation of the Spanish team in the World Cup, after two years leading the national team.”
The news of Lopetegui’s appointment comes as a surprise as the national team boss had not been considered among the favourites for the position.
Initial interest had reportedly focused on Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino but the Argentinian declared his happiness at White Hart Lane.
A former goalkeeper, Lopetegui made one appearance for Real as a player and also represented their fierce rivals Barcelona but had his most successful periods at Logrones and Rayo Vallecano.
As a manager he led Real Madrid’s B team, Castilla, in 2008-09 before moving on to take charge of Spain’s youth teams. He later managed Porto before being appointed manager of the full Spain national team in 2016.
He signed a two-year contract extension only in May but the lure of Real has now proved stronger.
Lopetegui will come up against Real’s star player, Cristiano Ronaldo, as Spain open their World Cup campaign against Portugal on Friday.
Resolving uncertainty over the forward’s future, and that of Champions League final match-winner Gareth Bale, will be among his immediate priorities at the Bernabeu.
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