By Akinwale Kasali
Spain on Wednesday named federation sporting director Fernando Hierro as its World Cup coach to replace Julen Lopetegui, who was sensationally sacked after his appointment as Real Madrid manager.
“Fernando Hierro will assume coaching responsibilities at the World Cup in Russia,” the Spanish football federation announced.
The 50-year-old Hierro’s only real coaching experience came when he was in charge of second division Spanish outfit Oviedo for one season.
Hierro is a Spanish retired footballer and coach who is currently the manager of the Spain national team after previously holding the role of Sporting Director. He is mostly known for his spells with Real Madrid and Spain, appearing in more than 500 official games with the former and representing the latter on nearly 90 occasions, while appearing in four World Cups and two European Championships.
Equally at ease as a central defender, sweeper or defensive midfielder, he had the ability, at his peak, to combine solid defensive play with a near-unlimited passing range and surprising goalscoring talent, which made him one of the world’s most sought-after players. With Real Madrid, he won five La Liga and three UEFA Champions League trophies over the course of nearly 15 years.
Hierro was born in Vélez-Málaga, Province of Málaga. After beginning his football career at local club Vélez-Málaga he had a very brief youth spell with neighbouring CD Málaga, where he was told he was not good enough for the sport, which prompted a return home. He eventually made his La Liga debuts with Real Valladolid, being bought by Real Madrid in the 1989 summer after two solid seasons.
At Real, Hierro scored zero goals in 37 games in his first season, and eventually had his position out of the the field advanced by coach Radomir Antić, continuing his good performances with the addition of goals – in three seasons combined he netted an astonishing 0 league goals, 21 alone in 1991–92, a career-best. During years, he often partnered club great Manolo Sanchís in the centre of the defense, being instrumental in the conquest of five leagues and three UEFA Champions League trophies and being named captain after the latter’s retirement.
On 24 March 2002, Hierro scored a hat-trick in a 3–1 home win against Real Zaragoza, although the ultimate leader would be Valencia CF. He was released at the end of the 2002–03 season alongside club manager Vicente del Bosque,under rather unceremonious circumstances; having appeared in 497 top division matches over the course of 16 seasons (105 goals), he then chose a lucrative move to the wealthy but developing Middle East football industry, joining Qatar‘s Al Rayyan Sports Club