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Spain's new coach Lopetegui promises 'evolution'

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Spain's new coach Lopetegui promises 'evolution'
Lopetegui during a press conference on Thursday. Photo: AFP
08:30 CEST+02:00
Newly named Spain coach Julen Lopetegui, who led Spain's youth teams to international success, vowed on Thursday to build upon the groundwork already laid by outgoing manager Vicente del Bosque as he took over the squad.

The Spanish football federation on Thursday named the 49-year-old former goalkeeper as the new coach, just weeks after Del Bosque resigned following Spain's defeat to Italy in the last 16 of Euro 2016.

"We will not be having a revolution, but rather an evolution within our ideas," Lopetegui told a news conference at the federation's headquarters in Las Rozas de Madrid, northeast of the Spanish capital.

"We will take advantage of all that Spanish football has done right for many years, we are not going to waste that. But we will adapt to each moment, to each rival, football does not stop. Spanish football is proud of its past, but we will look to the future."

Del Bosque had led Spain to the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 titles, after taking over from Euro 2008-winning coach Luis Aragones.

But the second half of his stint was disappointing, with the 2-0 defeat to Italy following a shock group-stage exit from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and he was criticised for not having given the newer generation a chance.

Lopetegui, who was sacked by Portuguese side FC Porto in January, signed a two-year contract which will see him manage Spain until the next World Cup in 2018 in Russia.

Thanks to his success with Spain's under-19s and under-21s, he has long been a favourite of Spanish FA head Angel Maria Villar, who made the appointment before concentrating on his bid to replace Michel Platini as UEFA chief.

Lopetegui is reported to have overcome stiff competition from veteran former Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao coach Joaquin Caparros for the post.

He confirmed media reports that he had been in talks with English second-division side Wolverhampton Wanderers but said those discussions "took a back seat" when he got the call from the Spanish federation.

Del Bosque wished his successor well.

"He's a man with experience, well trained and with huge enthusiasm and lots of energy," he told Radio Marca.

"He will know how to manage (the team) like he has done brilliantly in the younger age categories."

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