Fernando Hierro walks away from Spain

Fernando Hierro, Spain’s stand-in coach during the World Cup, is to leave the Spanish football federation after turning down the chance to return to his former role as sporting director.

Hierro has instead decided to “seek new horizons and undertake new professional challenges”, the RFEF said in a statement. The 50-year-old took charge of Spain after Julen Lopetegui was sacked on the eve of the tournament after agreeing to become Real Madrid coach following the tournament.

Under Hierro, Spain finished top of Group B but were knocked out at the last-16 stage following a penalty shootout defeat to Russia. The former Real Madrid defender was the Federation’s sporting director on two separate occasions, between 2007 and 2011 – during which time the national team won the European Championships and World Cup – and then again from November 2017.

“After walking many kilometres side by side, the Spanish Football Federation and Fernando Hierro have brought their relationship to an end following the conclusion of Spain’s campaign at the World Cup in Russia,” the RFEF said. “The most recent coach of the Spain national team has declined [the opportunity] to return to his previous position as RFEF sporting director and wishes to seek new horizons and undertake new professional challenges.

“The Federation would like to place on record its thanks to Fernando Hierro for his commitment and sense of responsibility, both in taking over the national team in extraordinary circumstances, and in the manner in which he has carried out all his functions at an organisation whose doors will always be open to him. The Federation would also like to highlight the professional and human values shown by an extraordinary sportsman to whom it wishes the best of luck for the future.”