herald

Monday 17 December 2018

New Real boss confident of success

Excited: Julen Lopetegui
Excited: Julen Lopetegui

New Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui has promised to meet the high expectations of "the best and the most demanding club in the world".

The 51-year-old former goalkeeper, who made a single La Liga appearance for the club after cutting his teeth in its B team, Castilla, was a surprise appointment as Zinedine Zidane's replacement, but insists he knows exactly what he has taken on.

In a video posted on the club's Twitter feed, Lopetegui said: "Coming back as the manager is a tremendous feeling. It requires responsibility, but it is also very exciting and emotional.

"I know that I am joining the best and the most demanding club in the world and I am convinced that I can meet these high expectations.

"Now we'll start preparing for our first trophy, the UEFA Super Cup on August 15."

Lopetegui's spell as Spain boss ended abruptly two days before their World Cup opener after his impending departure for Real was announced.

He first arrived at the club as a teenager but having found his opportunities limited, left for Logrones and had spells at Barcelona and Rayo Vallecano.

He launched his coaching career in the national team's youth set-up and after a time in charge at Rayo, returned to Madrid to take charge of Castilla.

Lessons

But it was with Spain, where he led his country to European Championship glory at Under-19 and Under-21 levels before taking over the senior team following a spell at Porto, that he made his name. However, he has never forgotten the lessons he learned at Real.

He said: "I have been through a lot with the club and this last stage closes the circle. I know Real Madrid well, its spirit, what Madridismo is all about and the demands of the club. I think it is very important that I do."

Lopetegui inherits a squad packed with world-class players despite Cristiano Ronaldo's departure for Juventus, and is intent on improving a side which won a third successive Champions League title last season, but finished third in the league.

He said: We all have to want to improve because we are all capable of improving. We have a very good squad and we are making tweaks and finding solutions at the moment."

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