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Who is Luis de la Fuente? Spain’s national team manager who replaced Luis Enrique

Everything you need to know about the manager of the Spain national team on the eve of the Nations League finals.

Everything you need to know about the manager of the Spain national team on the eve of the Nations League finals.
Pablo GarcíaEFE/RFEF

Luis Enrique lost his job as Spanish national team coach at the end of a sorry World Cup outing with his team exiting at the round of 16. The Spanish football federation, the RFEF, wasted no time in appointing his successor, the then under-21 coach Luis de la Fuente.

Despite only being in charge for a few months de la Fuente already has the chance to win Spain’s first piece of silverware in over a decade by taking his side to the Nations League trophy. In his way stand Italy, before the winner will play Croatia on Sunday.

Who is the manager of the Spanish national team?

Born in La Rioja, a region of Spain famous for its wine, Luis de la Fuente started out as a professional footballer playing for the B-team of the biggest side in the vicinity, the imaginatively named Bilbao Athletic, as a left-back. He moved through the ranks and played 146 times for the first team, winning two league titles before moves to Sevilla and Alavés came either side of a return to Athletic Club.

His playing career ended in the mid-90s and his managerial one picked up soon after, with a role at regional side Portugalete, in the Basque Country. From there he took charge of another Basque side, Aurrerá, before becoming coach of Bilbao Athletic, where he played for four years. A stint at Alavés came in 2011, 17 years after he made his debut for them as a player but he only lasted from July until October before he was sacked after three wins, four draws and two losses.

It was here that the Spanish Federation took a shining to De la Fuente and appointed him Under-19 coach of the men’s national team. On 19 June 2015, he led the side to become the Under-19 European Champions before winning Gold with the Under-18s at the Mediterranean Games three years later.

Three years after that, due to the resignation of Albert Celades, he became the manager of the Under-21 side and subsequently won the European Championship of the age group after goals from Fabián Ruíz and Dani Olmo defeated Germany. Olympic Silver came next in the delayed Olympic Games in Tokyo after his team got the final before losing to Brazil.

And now, one more rung on the ladder has appeared for Luis de la Fuente, as his time finally came to take charge of the first team. He has led the team to a win and a defeat in his two matches so far.

Easily the biggest challenge comes today with Spain facing European Championship-holders Italy in a Nations League battle.