Football

Who is Fernando Hierro, Spain’s new World Cup coach?

Fernando Hierro, Head coach of Spain looks on during the Spain Training Session ahead of the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018, in Krasnodar, Russia on Wednesday.

Fernando Hierro, Head coach of Spain looks on during the Spain Training Session ahead of the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018, in Krasnodar, Russia on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

During 1989-2003 Fernando Hierro, as a footballer, made over 500 appearances and won five La Ligas with Real Madrid C.F.

On June 13 last year, Fernando Hierro had resigned from a second-tier Spanish club after missing out on a promotion play-off spot. Exactly a year later, he has been named the manager of the Spanish World Cup team — one of the favourites for the trophy — after a tumultuous 24 hours that resulted in the firing of Julen Lopetegui as coach.

Celebrated player

Fernando Hierro had an illustrious career as a footballer, especially from 1989 to 2003 when he made over 500 appearances and won five La Ligas with Real Madrid C.F.

During the period, he played in four World Cups — 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2002. As the captain of the 2002 team, he guided the Spanish side to the fifth position which was the country’s all-time best performance until their World Cup win in 2010. Hierro is also the fifth on the list of Spain’s all-time top goal scorers, behind David Villa, Raul, Fernando Torres, and David Silva, and was named UEFA’s best defender in 1997-98.

Short stint as the coach

His coaching career, however, was brief and less impressive. After a successful stint as Malaga CF’s director of football for a year, Hierro spent a year as assistant manager — replacing Zinedine Zidane — at Real Madrid under Carlo Ancelotti. Hierro’s only previous experience as head coach comes from a season with Spanish second-tier side Real Oviedo in 2017 where he narrowly missed out on promotion to La Liga.

The 50-year-old appeared confident of adapting to the current challenge. “I only have one year of experience with Oviedo and one year of experience as an assistant coach,” he said, reported the Associated Press. “[But] I’ve been near a ball for 30 years.”

Speaking at a press conference alongside Spanish federation chief Luis Rubiales, Hierro added that there is not time to feel “sorry for ourselves”.

“The objective is to fight for a World Cup. The players have been working towards this for two years,” said Hierro, who was already working for the Spanish federation as sporting director. “I’ve told the players that we have a wonderful, exciting challenge and we can’t let this be an excuse to distract us from our dream.”

Acknowledging that one cannot change the work of two years in two days, Hierro said that his current plan is to make as few changes as possible to the team that was coached by Lopetegui.

Players react

Spanish captain and Real Madrid player Sergio Ramos, who reportedly rooted for Lopetegui to continue as the manager, was the first Spain player to speak up.

“We are the national team. We represent this emblem, these colors, our fans, a country,” Ramos wrote on Twitter. “Our responsibility and commitment is to you. Yesterday, today and tomorrow, together.”

Ramos’ partner in defence Gerard Pique, who plays for FC Barcelona, wrote “University of Michigan. Basketball. 1989. NCAA Champion. It wouldn’t be the first time it happened. Everyone united, more now than ever.”

He was referring to the 1989 incident where Bill Frieder, coach of University of Michigan basketball team, was fired for announcing he would change schools the following season just before the NCAA tournament. The team went on to win the national title.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Mar 25, 2020 4:36:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/who-is-fernando-hierro-spains-new-world-cup-coach/article24163154.ece

Next Story