The Basque tactician has just led Sevilla FC to Europe League success, but did you know these five facts about him?
- He played for both FC Barcelona and Real Madrid
Julen Lopetegui was a goalkeeper during his playing days. After coming through the Real Sociedad academy, he departed in search of minutes and went on to make 317 appearances between Spain’s top two divisions. While he spent most of his career at Rayo Vallecano and Logroñés, Lopetegui also became one of the rare players to represent both FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. He only played 10 times for FC Barcelona and once for Real Madrid, though.
- His father’s might
The current Sevilla coach was born in the Gipuzkoa region of the Basque Country and is the son of José Antonio Lopetegui, a famous weightlifter. His father competed in the Basque rural sport of Harri-jasotze, which translates as stone-lifting, and set various records. One of his records was that he once lifted a 100kg stone 22 times in one minute.
- His undefeated Spain tenure
After hanging up his boots and his gloves, Lopetegui moved into coaching and became the Spanish national team coach after stints with Rayo Vallecano, Real Madrid Castilla, Porto and the Spanish youth sides. He was in charge of La Roja for two years, from the end of Euro 2016 to the eve of the 2018 World Cup, when he was famously let go just before the tournament once it was announced his transfer to Real Madrid (after the World Cup). His record was excellent with his country, winning 14 and drawing six of his 20 games, meaning that he is the only Spain coach with zero losses after coaching 10 or more matches.
- His fall live on TV
The coach has also worked as a pundit on Spanish TV and worked for La Sexta at the 2006 World Cup. There, he developed a reputation as a thorough and intelligent analyst. Yet he also earned nationwide fame for a more unfortunate reason, as he began to feel dizzy and fainted on the set during one broadcast. Fortunately, after the show returned from an advertisement break, Lopetegui was up again and feeing fine.
- His relationship with Rafael Nadal
Lopetegui has a very famous business partner in the form of tennis superstar Rafael Nadal. Lopetegui is a close friend of Nadal and their families have worked together on various commercial projects. The tennis player even sent a motivational message to the coach and the Sevilla FC squad ahead of their Europa League final victory over Inter Milan.
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