With the confirmation of Julen Lopetegui as the new Real Madrid manager, the dust finally settles after months of speculation regarding the contenders for the top job at the Bernabeu. The post had been recently vacated by club legend Zinedine Zidane after he led his side to a third successive Champions League title.
The decision to appoint Lopetegui came completely out of the blue, with the Spanish media and Real Madrid fans touting Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino to take over the reins from Zidane.
Lopetegui is an inexperienced manager at club level, boasting an underwhelming 2-year spell at Porto between 2014-2016, after which he was sacked. Since then Lopetegui has taken over the reins of the Spanish National team, where he has done quite well.
A former goalkeeper himself, Lopetegui has managed the atmosphere of the dressing room well, whilst also having created a cohesive unit with the right balance of youth and experience. This bodes well for the new Real Madrid manager as a huge task of managing the biggest egos at the best club awaits.
As a result, we look ahead to some interesting facts about the Spaniard:
#5 He has represented both Real Madrid & Barcelona
Having started his professional career at Real Sociedad, Lopetegui, a goalkeeper by trade joined Real Madrid Castilla as a 19-year old. After spending three years at Real Madrid’s B-team, Lopetegui joined Las Palmas on loan in search of regular playing time.
Once Lopetegui returned from his loan spell, he could not displace Spanish goalkeeper Francisco Buyo, managing a solitary appearance for the club in his two years. After a three-year spell at Spanish club Logrones, Lopetegui joined Barcelona in 1994 as a replacement for club legend Andoni Zubizarreta.
Again, he found himself down in the pecking order, this time to Zubizaretta’s longtime understudy, Carles Busquets. The 1-cap Spanish International managed only 5 appearances for the Catalonian team in his three seasons with the club.
Although Lopetegui played for both Spanish giants, Real Madrid and Barcelona, he was never up to the standards required for playing at these great clubs.