While the former Castilla boss is delighted to be heading back to the Bernabeu, although the manner of his Spain exit hurt him deeply
Former Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has admitted that the news he would be sacked from his post made Wednesday “the saddest day of my life”.
Lopetegui steered La Roja through World Cup qualifying with ease and went into the tournament as one of the favourites to lift the Jules Rimet Trophy.
The RFEF, however, made the decision to relieve him of his duties after going public over a deal to take the Real Madrid job at the end of the World Cup.
And he confessed that while he is delighted to join the Blancos, the manner of his Spain exit has left a bitter taste.
“Yesterday was the saddest day of my life, since the death of my mother… but this is the happiest day,” Lopetegui told reporters on Thursday.
“I know which club I am joining, the demands are huge, so we will give our all to fight to live up to the history of the club, and to improve it.
“Today is the happiest day of my life. I came here when I was 18 years old with my brother in Castilla. I left home to be at Real Madrid. I’ve lived & drank Madrid.
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“I have complete loyalty & I am very clear on what loyalty is. I hope Spain have a magnificent World Cup.”
Lopetegui knows Madrid well, having played for Castilla for several seasons as a player and also coaching the club’s B team at the start of his career on the bench.
He boasts European Championship medals at both Under-19 and 21 levels from his time directing Spain’s youth divisions, and was most recently in charge of Porto prior to taking the national team job in 2016.