The training session
Spain held their first training session before their Americas tour yesterday afternoon at Las Rozas. The session started with VDB giving a chat. The team only trained for about one hour, and it was a light session, in which all eyes were on the gestures, words, complicity between those players from Real Madrid and Barcelona. And there really wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, probably much to the disappointment of the press, who are always looking for morbo. Yay for normality!
After more than four years of excellent work as sporting director of the RFEF, Fernando Hierro will be leaving the federation at the end of June, meaning these next two friendlies will be his last games with the senior team. He recently spoke with the RFEF, and here’s the interview.
Why are you leaving?
These four years have been very intense and I need to take a breather from football. I’ve been enriched with this great experience, but I want to continue learning and I also want to reflect on my future.
But other reasons have been given?
I know, I’ve heard and read about them, but the truth, the only truth is what I just said. I will always be very grateful to the RFEF for the opportunity that they gave me to carry out a role, that until my arrival, didn’t exist, and which made me the first sporting director in the history of the federation.
Almost there: here are the fabulous Pepe and Yolanda at the Grand National last week, courtesy of ¡Hola!. As you know, they’re expecting their third child, after the adorable Alma and Grecia.
No to the Americas: the RFEF’s spokesperson Jorge Carretero confirmed yesterday that Spain will not participate in the Copa América because it’s impossible to resolve all the logistics necessary to play in the tournament, and because the national team and clubs’ agendas for this summer are already set. He said they didn’t even consider the possibility, although they thank the organizers for the invitation.
Yes to China: Spain will play in China, on Nov. 11, after negotiations for a friendly during June fell through. Spanish president JLRZ was recently in Beijing, and talked about this topic with Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, after the latter personally asked JLRZ to intercede with the RFEF to make this happen. He phones Ángel Villar, got a “yes” and it’s off to China for La Roja! It probably didn’t hurt that during the same trip, China promised to buy even more Spanish debt (12 percent of the total).
Still number one: Spain has retained its number one position in FIFA’s country ranking.
Hierro & his chicos: apparently the departure of Fernando Hierro from the RFEF has been painful for the players, especially the Barcelona bloque, since he’s supported all of them from the beginning. Fernando was the one who constantly called them to see how they were doing, he was the one that incorporated Jesús Navas onto the team… and so they’ll miss him.
Moc moc: A week and a half ago, Gerard Piqué made fun of Cesc for getting into a car accident, saying that “I see that Cesc, even after 30 years of living in the UK, still doesn’t know how to drive on the left!” Cesc got his revenge today, when he tweeted, “I see that after 24 years of living in Barcelona, you still don’t know how to park a car! What a disaster…” This was in response to the news that Geri’s car was towed after he parked on a zebra crossing. He had to go collect his car and pay a fine, making him late for work. He responded to Cesc saying, “why do you believe these news? The city just asked to borrow my car for a few hours and then gave it back!”
ONE. Two cute pictures of the team from their last concentración, in their pre-game technical chat. They really look like schoolchildren! Andrés would sit in the front row next to the teacher! Piqué gets my vote for being the one most likely to sit in the back.
TWO. Andrés Iniesta is the star of Kalise ice cream’s new campaign, under the tagline, “when you make 48 million people happy with a goal you score, you get whatever you ask for. You’ll find out soon what Andrés Iniesta asked for in Kalise ice cream’s new campaign.”
THREE. Víctor Valdés was one of the invited guests on La Sexta’s “Buenafuente” on Thursday night, and before the taping, the show asked Andrés Iniesta, Carles Puyol and Gerard Piqué via twitter what questions they should ask Víctor. Only Carles replied, saying “ask him about Manolo Escobar during the World Cup celebration” (watch that moment here).
UPDATE: The RFEF has issued a statement saying that Fernando Hierro will not continue in his role as sporting director once his contract ends on June 30.
Even though I’m a bit heartbroken by this news, I have to say, he is going out on top, leaving a wonderful legacy. Gracias Fernando.
Rumors were swirling around Fernando Hierro’s future yesterday, after several reports came out claiming that he had resigned from his position as sporting director of the RFEF. The man himself came out to deny these reports, saying that “the situation is the same as it was one month ago. My contract with the FEF ends on June 30, and I will continue at least until that day. I’m negotiating the renewal with president Villar, but there’s nothing concrete. I could continue or I might not, because it depends on both parts. But what is certain is that I have not resigned nor am I going to resign.”
Apparently, he has doubts about whether to resign or not, because the job requires a lot of commitment (he not only follows the senior team, but also all the lower categories) and “my family is paying for it. I have two children that I cannot dedicate a lot of time to and that’s difficult. I would like to continue working in the FEF, but my family has a say in this. I will speak with them this weekend and we’ll see what I do.”
The former Madrid defender has held the position of sporting director for the last four years (he started in September 2007), helping to usher in the golden age of Spanish football, with Spain winning the Eurocopa and the World Cup during his reign. Spain only lost four games in these four years (and I’m sure you can name all of them). He also managed the delicate transition between Luis Aragonés and Vicente del Bosque very successfully.
In the case that Hierro does not continue, the RFEF is considering handing over the position’s duties to Vicente del Bosque, who will combine it with his work as coach of the senior team.
* however, of course I can understand Fernando’s desire to spend more time with his family.
One. I got a comment the other day asking how Pep looked when he was a player. So here’s a look back at our Pep Guardiola back in the days when he played for the Spanish national team. (The man Pep is hugging is our sporting director, Fernando Hierro.) He’s not as smooth, suave and slick as he is now, is he? Also included are pictures of three other men who were in Zurich on Monday, one of which is Emilio Butragueño (part of the Real Madrid delegation); Hierro is another. Can you see who the other one is?
This is from the epic game that Spain played against Yugoslavia in Euro 2000.
But first, let’s go a bit off-topic. Iker and Cristiano will travel to Zurich on Dec. 2 in their roles as country captains to support Iberia’s World Cup bid, since that’s the day when the site of the 2018 tournament will be announced.
Going now to the point of this post: yesterday, when VDB gave his list for the Spain-Portugal friendly, and when he was honored by Atlético de Madrid, he said some things that I liked.
On Xavi: if he’s been called up, it’s because he’s able to play 90 minutes. No one can doubt the commitment Xavi has to the team. I don’t understand how anyone can doubt a player who’s appeared 98 times for his national team.
On Iniesta’s nice gesture: these are the types of things that makes football good. It’s very, very good for football to have this generosity of a friend, and between two rivals such as Barcelona and Espanyol. I’m sure Andrés would have preferred to do this with the maximum amount of discretion, because he did it without anyone asking him to, but I also believe it’s good that the presidents of Barcelona and Espanyol appeared in public with Andrés to remember Dani Jarque. I think it’s an example for everyone.
Atleti’s foundation presented VDB with one of their extraordinary awards yesterday.
Meanwhile, Fernando Hierro, in an interview with magazine Don Balón, had this to say.
News from the world of La Roja!
One. La Rojita beat Croatia 2-1 last night behind goals from Adrián and San José. The midfield was excellent, but the boys’ aim wasn’t so good. Let’s hope they do better on Tuesday in Croatia!
Awww, even their shirts have a star.
Juan Mata tweeted about the game today, saying that the team will suffer against Croatia to achieve their goal but are sure they will be able to do it, and also gave thanks to Burgos for how they cheered on the team and him.
Bonus: video of Juanín and his lookalike father Juan. Includes pictures of baby Juanín, who is extremely, extremely adorable. What a cute kid he was (and still is)!
Two. Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso are recovering from the knock to the right ankle and the sore throat, respectively, that they suffered on Friday. Both will be available to play on Tuesday in Scotland. Sergio told EFE that he’s feeling less pain in his ankle, and that there’s less inflammation after treatment. He expects to train normally today (session begins at 11h). Meanwhile, Fernando Llorente left the game with a big bruise on his right ankle as a souvenir, and although it’s still hurting him, he should also be fine for Tuesday.