Julen Lopetegui will lead holders Spain into their concluding UEFA European Under-21 Championship Group 5 qualifiers against Switzerland and Croatia after the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) decided not to renew coach Luis Milla's contract.
Capped once by Spain as a goalkeeper, the 45-year-old Lopetegui takes charge after leading the country's juniors to victory at last month's UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Estonia. The move also comes in the wake of a disappointing Spanish performance at the London Olympics, where Milla's team exited the football tournament without registering a goal in three group stage matches.
Former FC Barcelona, Real Madrid CF and Valencia CF midfielder Milla, 46, had guided Spain to successive European U19 Championships in 2009 and 2010 before being promoted to the U21s and overseeing their triumphant finals campaign in Denmark last summer.
With the RFEF now opting for a change, Lopetegui – whose playing career took in long stints with CD Logroñés and Rayo Vallecano de Madrid – assumes control of a U21 squad well placed to qualify for the 2013 finals in Israel with a 100% record after six group games.
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