The new coach of Spain, Luis de la Fuente, said he is ‘the present and future of Spanish football’ at a press conference on Monday, defending his appointment after criticism that he lacked experience at the top level.
The 61-year-old, initially appointed until after Euro 2024, has coached Spain’s youth teams since 2013, most recently the U23 side.
De la Fuente replaces Luis Enrique after the former Barcelona coach was sacked following Spain’s shock World Cup last 16 defeat by Morocco.
‘I was a professional player for 15 years,’ De la Fuente told a press conference on Monday. ‘I won titles, I was an international [at youth level] apart from with the national team. I have [coached] 16 players who were in the Spain squad at the World Cup.’
‘If there is anyone in Spain who knows the present and the future of Spanish football, it’s me,’ he added.
De la Fuente was a left-back for Athletic Bilbao in the 1980s and 90s, winning two La Liga titles and the Copa del Rey with the Basque team. He also played for Sevilla and Alaves before starting his coaching career.
The new Spain coach earned silver with the national side at the 2020 Olympics, losing in extra-time to Brazil in the gold medal match.
De la Fuente was asked if he would recall Sergio Ramos and, while he did not want to speak about individual players, left the door open for the veteran Paris Saint-Germain defender to earn a recall. Ramos is Spain’s most capped player with 180 caps between 2005 and 2021.
‘All players in condition are liable to being called up,’ said De la Fuente.
The coach admitted he took the job instantly after being offered it and said he would stay faithful to Spain’s classic style of play, while not closing himself off to other ideas.
‘We are not closed off to anything, we are open to change things when it is necessary,’ he said.
Spain dominated possession in the World Cup, attempting over 1,000 passes against Morocco, but only forged one shot on target over 120 minutes and were eliminated on penalties.
Former Deportivo La Coruña winger Albert Luque was also confirmed as the new sporting director of the national team, replacing Jose Francisco Molina, who will depart in January.
Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales said he, Luque, and out-going sporting director Molina agreed that a new project must begin, which was why they fired Luis Enrique after the World Cup exit.