During his Monday presentation, new Spain coach Luis de la Fuente defended his hiring in response to claims that he lacked expertise at the highest level.
Since 2013, the 61-year-old has been the coach of Spain’s youth teams, most recently the U23 team. His appointment is valid until after Euro 2024.
De la Fuente takes over for Luis Enrique, who was fired after Spain’s shocking World Cup quarterfinal loss to Morocco. Enrique was the former coach of Barcelona.
“I was a professional player for 15 years,” De la Fuente told a press conference.
“I won titles, I was an international (at youth level) apart from with the national team.
“I have (coached) 16 players who were in the Spain squad at the World Cup.
“If there is anyone in Spain who knows the present and the future of Spanish football, it’s me.”
In the 1980s and 1990s, De la Fuente played left defender for Athletic Bilbao, helping the Basque team win the Copa del Rey and two LaLiga championships.
Prior to beginning his coaching career, he previously played for Sevilla and Alaves.
The new Spain coach lost the gold medal game to Brazil in extra time to earn silver with the country’s team at the 2020 Olympics.
When asked if he would recall Sergio Ramos, de la Fuente declined to comment on specific players but left open the possibility that the seasoned Paris Saint-Germain defender would receive a recall.
Ramos has 180 caps for Spain, earned between 2005 and 2021.
“All players in condition are liable to being called up,” said De la Fuente.
The coach acknowledged accepting the position as soon as it was offered and promised to stick to Spain’s traditional style of play while remaining open to new ideas.
Spain was the team with the most possession throughout the World Cup, attempting almost 1000 passes against Morocco, yet they were eliminated on penalties after 120 minutes since they managed just one shot on goal.
“There is one thing that is not negotiable, one idea and one model,” added De la Fuente.
“It adapts to any system, it’s not incompatible. I will try to incorporate nuances to improve.
“We will try to grow and keep improving, interpreting the changes in the game.
“We are not closed off to anything, we are open to change things when it is necessary.”
Albert Luque, a former winger for Deportivo La Coruna, has also been named the next sporting director of the national team, taking over for Jose Francisco Molina, who will step down in January.
The outgoing sporting director Molina, Luque, and the president of the Spanish football federation (RFEF), Luis Rubiales, all concurred that a new project needed to start, which is why they removed Luis Enrique following their World Cup exit.
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