Luis Enrique returns as Spain coach after daughter’s death

Sports

Spain head coach Robert Moreno sits on the bench during the Euro 2020 group F qualifying soccer match between Spain and Romania at the Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Monday, Nov. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

MADRID (AP) — Luis Enrique is returning as Spain coach five months after stepping down because of his daughter’s illness.

He is taking over from former assistant Robert Moreno, who coached the team through qualifying for the 2020 European Championship. His last match was on Monday, a 5-0 rout of Romania in Madrid.

Luis Enrique’s 9-year-old daughter, Xana, died of a type of bone cancer less than three months ago.

Moreno had said he “would be delighted to step aside” if Luis Enrique decided to return and was ready.

Federation president Luis Rubiales said it was Moreno who told officials he would leave after talking to Luis Enrique and being told by the former Barcelona coach that he would like to come back.

Rubiales said it was always clear that Luis Enrique would return as coach when he felt he was ready.

“Luis Enrique was always the leader of this project,” Rubiales said. “Moreno would remain as the national team coach if Luis Enrique didn’t want to return.”

Moreno will no longer work as an assistant coach to Luis Enrique.

The 49-year-old Luis Enrique resigned from the national team in June, a few months after Xana was diagnosed. He had tried to remain in charge while staying with his family, making decisions and watching practices while being away.

Spain ended its qualifying campaign as the Group F winner with eight wins and two draws. “La Roja” finished five points in front of second-placed Sweden. It will be one of the top seeded teams for next month’s Euro 2020 draw.

Spanish media said Moreno said goodbye to players after the match against Romania at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. He did not show up to speak to the media in the post-match news conference.

He also did not show up for a meeting with federation officials on Tuesday morning to discuss details of his departure.

The 42-year-old Moreno officially took over ahead of the team’s 2-1 win at Romania in Euro 2020 qualifying. He coached five other matches, with three wins and two draws.

“Robert’s performance as our coach was very good, we have to respect that,” Rubiales said. “We thank him for all the effort that he put in.”

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