Former Real Madrid man will take reins in Russia
“We have a group of players who have been together for two years to work towards the World Cup and I have been sporting director, so I understand the motivation is huge.
“We cannot alter two years of hard work in the coming days – from now until the Portugal match, we don’t have the ability to change much.
“They key is to change as little as possible. We cannot change anything in two days.”
Earlier yesterday, Spain delayed a press conference at the same venue by well over an hour before Rubiales announced he had dismissed Lopetegui – pointing the finger of blame at Real Madrid, rather than the outgoing coach.
“We have been forced to dispense with the national coach. We wish him the best of luck,” he said.
“I don’t want to get into how Real Madrid should go about things. The Spanish team is the team of all Spain.
“If it had been up to Julen it wouldn’t have happened in this way and I wouldn’t have found out five minutes beforehand.”
Former Barcelona great Xavi was full of praise for the swift actions of Rubiales – who was only appointed as president last month.
“Lopetegui’s decision, for me, was inopportune, unexpected and rushed,” he said.
“It was a surprise to everyone but Rubiales reacted really well. He’s looked at the RFEF, which must always be above any one person.”
Fernando Hierro (left, back to camera) addreses the Spanish squad.