Spain coach Luis Enrique leaves role after shock World Cup exit at hands of Morocco

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By Euronews
Spain's head coach Luis Enrique speaks to reporters during a news conference at Qatar University, in Doha, Qatar, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022.
Spain's head coach Luis Enrique speaks to reporters during a news conference at Qatar University, in Doha, Qatar, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Luis Enrique has left his role as coach of Spain's national team after the country crashed out of the World Cup by losing on penalties to Morocco.

The former Real Madrid and Barcelona player had been in the post since 2018. He will be succeeded by the manager of Spain's under-21 team, Luis de la Fuente.

Spain's shock exit in Qatar followed a goalless draw in the last 16 match which saw Enrique's young side struggle to break down a stubborn Moroccan defence, before a disastrous shootout in which they failed to score, going down 3-0.

Yet the team had begun the tournament in style, crushing Costa Rica 7-0 before drawing with Germany and then losing to Japan, qualifying for the knockout phase on goal difference.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said in a statement that it "would like to thank Luis Enrique and all his coaching staff for their work at the head of the senior national team over the last few years".

"The RFEF sports management has sent the president a report in which it is determined that a new project for the Spanish national football team should be started, with the aim of continuing the growth achieved in recent years thanks to the work carried out by Luis Enrique and his collaborators," it added.

The federation pointed out that under Enrique, Spain had reached the final four of the UEFA Nations League twice out of three attempts — last year they lost in the final to France — and the semi-finals of Euro 2020, when they lost to the eventual winners Italy on penalties. 

Imposing "his own stamp and through a defined style", the federation said the coach had "placed his faith in young talent and has given hope for the future of the Spanish national team".  

Luis Enrique took over the national team after the 2018 World Cup in Russia, revamping the squad after the team's elimination in the round of 16.

He temporarily left because of the illness and eventual death of his young daughter, but returned in 2019.

Additional sources • AP, AFP