Football: Luis Enrique returns as Spain coach but former assistant Robert Moreno upset by handling of change

 In this photo taken on March 23, Spain's coach Luis Enrique looks on before the Euro 2020 group F qualifying football match between Spain and Norway at the Mestalla Stadium in Valencia.
In this photo taken on March 23, Spain's coach Luis Enrique looks on before the Euro 2020 group F qualifying football match between Spain and Norway at the Mestalla Stadium in Valencia.PHOTO: AFP

MADRID (REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE) - Luis Enrique has been reappointed Spain coach after resigning from the role in June owing to his late daughter's illness, Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales said on Tuesday (Nov 19).

"Today we can confirm Luis Enrique returns to his position of work," he said in a press conference at the national team's training base in Las Rozas.

He added that Robert Moreno, the former assistant coach who steered Spain to Euro 2020 qualification after Enrique left, wanted to stand down so that he could return.

Enrique's nine-year-old daughter Xana died in August after a five-month battle with bone cancer.

The 49-year-old said when he stepped down that he had been unable to fulfil "duties as normal since March".

Rubiales said: "Everyone knew that if Luis Enrique wanted to return he would have the doors to the national team open to him.”

Moreno, who led the team to seven victories and two draws as Spain comfortably qualified for next summer’s tournament, had said when appointed that he would step aside if Enrique wanted to return.

“Luis Enrique stepped down because of the worst possible thing that can happen to a father,” Rubiales said. “He has always been the leader of our project and he has a contract until (the) World Cup in Qatar.”

He said Enrique has a contract until the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and that it will be up to him whether Moreno is offered a chance to resume his previous role as assistant coach.

The pair were close friends and also worked together at Barcelona, Celta Vigo and Roma but Moreno appears upset at the manner of his departure and there have been reports that he has fallen out with Enrique and will not return as his assistant..

Enrique's readiness to come back as coach will be welcomed but the RFEF’s handling of the change has been clumsy, with reports emerging before Spain’s 5-0 win over Romania on Monday (Nov 18) that Moreno would not lead the team at next year’s finals.

Moreno in tears

He did not appear for his post-match press conference and reportedly left the players’ dressing room in tears.

Rubiales said Moreno also chose not to show up for a meeting with the RFEF on Tuesday. “We had a meeting set up with Robert Moreno at 10am this morning,” he said. “But he did not come, only his two lawyers.”

He rejected accusations of dishonesty, insisting he spoke to Enrique in October and then again on Monday, having learnt he was ready to return through Moreno.

“It was clear that as soon as Luis Enrique felt strong enough to return, the door would be open for him,” Rubiales said. “I have been honest about that. Nobody can feel tricked.”

He added: “We thank Robert Moreno for his work, he did a very good job, and we are very happy with what he did.