MADRID (Reuters) – Robert Moreno has been thrust into the biggest coaching job in Spanish football despite no playing career and never having taken charge of a first team after Luis Enrique resigned as national team coach on Wednesday for personal reasons.
Moreno, 41, was appointed assistant coach when Luis Enrique took charge of Spain last July and acted as caretaker when the former Barcelona manager took a leave of absence in March to deal with what was described as an urgent family matter.
Spain have won all three of their games under Moreno and hold a five-point lead over Sweden in their Euro 2020 qualifying group. Federation president Luis Rubiales said it was important to maintain the project which Luis Enrique had started.
“They (the coaching staff) told me they could leave if I wanted them to but they are working very well and they are the best option,” Rubiales told a news conference on Wednesday.
“The results will tell us whether we made the right choice or not, but all the players identify with the coaching staff and it’s the best decision for the federation.”
Moreno, who will be in charge until after Euro 2020, called his appointment “bittersweet” but said he felt spurred on to take the role after being encouraged by Luis Enrique to do so.
“I feel contradictory feelings, sadness on one hand but responsibility on the other,” he said.
“Above all the fact that Luis Enrique has supported us and wants us to do this has served me well and made me decide to take it on. His support is key to us. I’m sure we’re going to have good results.
“We know that we won’t please everyone, but we can’t control that. All we can do is offer to work hard with the players and help them, as they are the ones that will determine whether we win or lose.”
Moreno, who holds a degree from the University of Barcelona in trade and international relations, began working alongside Luis Enrique with Barcelona’s B team in 2010 in the scouting department.
He followed him to AS Roma and Celta Vigo and then back to Barca, with the Catalans winning two Liga titles, three Copa del Rey trophies and the 2015 Champions League before Luis Enrique resigned in 2017.
Asked about his lack of experience, Moreno defended his credentials.
“I do have experience. I’ve been with Luis for nine years, watching him work with the top players in the world,” he said.
“I’m sure we’ll do a great job although I can’t promise results. If we win the European Championship no-one will remember whether or not I had experience.”
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris)