Madrid, May 22 (IANS) The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) on Tuesday announced an extension of contract for Julen Lopetegui, who will manage the Spain national team until the end of the European Championships in 2020.
The decision is a huge vote of confidence for Lopetegui as he prepares to lead Spain to the 2018 World Cup finals, which will be his first major tournament in charge since replacing Vicente del Bosque in 2016, reports Xinhua news agency.
The first major decision taken by new RFEF President Luis Rubiales, who was elected last week to the post, is a reward for Lopetegui’s first two seasons in charge, during which he has coached Spain 18 times with 13 wins and five draws, seeing his side score 59 goals and conceding just 12 in that period.
The decision comes on the same day that Lopetegui gave a list of seven players who will train with the Spain squad in their preparations for the World Cup.
Athletic Club Bilbao trio of Yeray Alvarez, Unai Nunez and Inaki Williams are joined by Valencia midfielder Carlos Soler, Vilarreal’s Rodri, Mikel Oyarzabal from Real Sociedad and Real Madrid defender Jesus Vallejo, who will help cover for the absence of Real Madrid quintet of Marco Asensio, Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal, Isco and Nacho Fernandez, who will get an extra week’s holiday following Saturday’s Champions League final.
Alvarez’s call up is especially newsworthy as he needed an operation for testicular cancer at the end of 2016 and then missed the first half of the 2017-18 season after needing a course of chemotherapy following tests carried out in May 2017.