surinenglish

Luis Enrique has signed a two-year deal with the RFEF.
Luis Enrique has signed a two-year deal with the RFEF. / Reuters

Luis Enrique to lead Spain into new era as Fernando Hierro steps aside

  • Malaga-born Hierro has cut all ties with the national team, turning down a return to the sporting director role he held prior to the World Cup

Luis Enrique has been appointed as Spain head coach, officially beginning the rebuilding process after a disappointing World Cup campaign. The 48-year-old signed an initial two-year contract on Monday to replace Fernando Hierro in the hotseat.

Local man Hierro, who was thrust into the managerial spotlight just two days before the World Cup began following the shock dismissal of Julen Lopetegui, led the team to the knockout stages where they were defeated by hosts Russia.

Despite the challenging circumstances, Hierro told the Spanish football federation (RFEF) that he would be searching for new "professional challenges" having accepted responsibility for Spain's failure and turning down the opportunity to continue with Spain as the federation's sporting director – his position before the World Cup.

"An indisputable leader"

Hierro's replacement in the dugout is Luis Enrique who won two consecutive La Liga titles during his time as manager of Barcelona and made 62 appearance for the national team as a player

Luis Rubiales, RFEF president, had said that they were looking for an "indisputable leader within the dressing room" and someone who "commanded a hundred per cent respect" - a profile the former Roma and Celta Vigo coach fits.

As he announced Enrique's appointment, Rubiales added: "We have two very intense and important years [ahead of us] and the new coach fits all of the requirements [we were looking for]."

"We didn't approach anyone else, we only spoke to Luis Enrique."

Rubiales (left) with Molina on Monday.

Rubiales (left) with Molina on Monday. / EFE

Enrique was not the only appointment made on Monday. José Francisco Molina, formerly of Valencia and Atlético Madrid, has filled the sporting director role, left vacant by Hierro.

He stressed that changing the style was not on the agenda, but "to make small changes". "Just because we haven't done so well in recent times, it doesn't mean we should go back to square one," he said.

The new duo must now revive the team's fortunes. Spain have not progressed to the quarter finals in the last three major tournaments, and are now without star midfielder Andrés Iniesta who has retired from international football.

Enrique will be presented to the media next week, Rubiales confirmed.