Real Madrid have announced that the Spain head coach Julen Lopetegui will take over as manager at the Bernabéu after 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Lopetegui has signed a three-year deal with Madrid after two years with the national side, who he has guided to the World Cup in impressive fashion.
The timing of the announcement is unexpected, given that Spain kick off their tournament on Friday when they face Portugal in Sochi.
Lopetegui, 51, played for Real between 1988 and 1991 as a goalkeeper, making one league appearance, and later turned out for rivals Barcelona a handful of times. He also coached the B team, Castilla, in 2008-09 before joining the national setup as Spain Under-19 coach.
He has experienced a modest club career having been sacked by Porto in January 2016 after a trophy-less 18 months at the Estadio do Dragao. That was 11 years after his only previous club job, a brief 11-game spell in charge of Rayo Vallecano in 2003.
In May, he signed a two-year extension to remain as Spain coach until 2020 but the call of Madrid has proved stronger.
Lopetegui’s appointment comes as a considerable surprise, not just because of the timing as Spain kick off their World Cup against Portugal on Friday, but because his name hadn’t been mentioned at all in Spanish media following Zinedine Zidane’s shock resignation on 31 May.
Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, former Madrid midfielder and youth coach Guti, Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann and Germany national team boss Joachim Low were considered to be on club president Florentino Pérez’s shortlist.
Zidane, meanwhile, claims he is taking a break from football after stepping down at the Bernabeu.
Speaking at the opening of a children’s playground in Paris on behalf of adidas, he told Diario AS: “Right now, I am taking a break.
“I do not know what I will do after, because at the moment the most important thing was the decision that I took. The future? We will see.”