Spain announced the departure of Luis Enrique as coach of the national team on Thursday following the team’s shock penalty shootout defeat on Tuesday to Morocco in the round of 16 at the World Cup in Qatar, and his replacement was named.
The former Barcelona manager, whose contract with Spain was set to end this month, took full responsibility for his team’s earlier than expected exit from the tournament.
The Spanish FA announced that Luis Enrique would be replaced by Spain under-21 manager Luis de la Fuente. De la Fuente, 61, guided Spain’s under-19 side to a European Championship title in 2015 and led the under-21s to the same honour in 2019, while he was in charge of the team that won a silver medal at last year’s Tokyo Olympics.
A statement from the Spanish FA said: “The RFEF would like to thank Luis Enrique and his entire coaching staff at the helm of the absolute national team in recent years.
“The RFEF has chosen Luis de la Fuente as the new national coach. The sporting director, Jose Francisco Molina, has transferred a report to the president, Luis Rubiales, in which he recommends the coach to lead the new chapter that begins after the World Cup in Qatar.
“The RFEF board of directors must approve the appointment next Monday.”
In a statement published on his social media channels, Luis Enrique thanked the Spanish FA for having appointed him, the players, who he said had been “exemplary in their behaviour” and the fans. He also said the national team needed “support” to allow De la Fuente to succeed while in charge of Spain.
“Everything started four years ago and how quickly time has passed,” Luis Enrique said.
“I can only be super grateful to those who appointed me twice (president Rubiales and sporting director Molina).
“How could I not [be grateful] to the players who have been exemplary in their behavior and faithful to the idea put forward. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to help you more.
“Last but not least, to the fans who in a uniform way have transmitted their support in all moments and especially the most delicate ones.
“It’s time to say goodbye and in these cases just a small reflection… What the national team needs is SUPPORT in all its meaning so that Luis de la Fuente can achieve everything that is proposed.”