Five minutes was all the warning Luis Rubiales had of Julen Lopetegui’s defection to Real Madrid – and to the head of the Spain Football Federation that was unforgivable
Luis Rubiales took a call and listened in shock to what he was told. He asked for more time, was turned down, so he hung up and hurriedly dialled Julen Lopetegui’s number. There was no answer and very soon it was too late.
At 5.45pm Russian time, five minutes after the president of the Spanish Football Federation had been informed, everyone else knew too. Unforgivable, the president thought. Lopetegui, the Spain manager, had gone to see his players, to tell them what Real Madrid had just told Rubiales: that he was joining the club after the World Cup. At the same time, a statement went up on Real’s website.