Magpies offered Benitez to Spain as WCup coach
Newcastle United offered the Spain national team the chance to have Rafael Benitez as its coach during the 2018 World Cup after Julen Lopetegui was sacked on the eve of the tournament, Spanish federation president Luis Rubiales has said.
Former sporting director Fernando Hierro was named as Spain’s interim coach several hours after Lopetegui was sacked one day before the World Cup began, with the 2010 winner later suffering a shock exit to host Russia in the last 16.
“When I sacked Julen I immediately called Hierro and told him I didn’t want to make any changes. Two days later a letter arrived from Newcastle saying ‘Are you interested in our coach? He’s at your disposition.’ We said thanks but no,” Rubiales told Spanish radio station Cadena COPE yesterday.
“We would have never done that, we couldn’t hire Benitez because it would have been acting in the same way for which we reproached Julen.”
Lopetegui was sacked for announcing he had agreed to take over at Real immediately after the World Cup without the consent of Rubiales.
Newcastle did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Benitez mentioned the possibility of coaching Spain during the World Cup earlier this month, telling reporters at Newcastle’s training camp in Dublin: “There was maybe a chance, but still I am here and I am happy to be here.”
Former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique was appointed as Spain’s coach earlier this month.
Rubiales has been criticized in certain sections of the Spanish media for taking a seismic decision which threw Spain’s World Cup preparations into chaos after an impressive qualifying campaign.