Lopetegui targets Premier League after Real Madrid nightmare

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Despite being sacked from two of the highest profile jobs in world football in 2018, the 52-year-old sees a route back into top-tier coaching

Former Real Madrid and Spain boss Julen Lopetegui is eyeing a return to management in the Premier League after breaking his silence following a nightmare year.

The 52-year-old lost two of the highest profile jobs in world football during 2018 during a haunting 138-day spell for the ex-goalkeeper.

Sacked days before La Roja began their World Cup campaign, he lasted just 14 matches at Santiago Bernabeu.

But Lopetegui will not be deterred by the harrowing experience and is ready to resume his coaching career, with a move to England not out of the question.

"A coach needs to be open for the future, but if I can choose, I prefer to be in the best leagues," he told the BBC Radio 5 Live Football Daily podcast.

"England is a fantastic league. When you watch a match in England, you can feel the atmosphere, the respect for the players and the coaches, this is very important. I want to feel that.

"Of course Spain is a fantastic league too, with fantastic players and coaches, but we will see."

Spain were one of the main contenders for last year's World Cup before they parted ways with Lopetegui just two days before the tournament was due to start.

Julen Lopetegui Spain 2018

The boss had an agreement in place to move to Madrid at the end of the tournament, with an announcement made as Spain were preparing for the finals.

But Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) chief Luis Rubiales took exception to talks seemingly taking place behind his back and dismissed Lopetegui, with Fernando Hierro thrust into the breach.

The 2010 winners reached the last 16 before being knocked out on penalties by hosts Russia.

"It was not easy for me," he admits. "We worked very hard for two years, we felt that we were ready to have a fantastic World Cup.

"Two months previously, when I signed a new contract with Spain, they put a buyout clause in. It was [Luis] Rubiales' idea, I agreed it with him no problem and then it [the Real Madrid job offer] happened.

"The timing was not chosen by me or Real Madrid - I said yes, but I knew the World Cup was my only responsibility. To keep it secret for one month is impossible and was not honest.

"We were convinced it was best to have a press conference to open and close the issue then, after that, the only focus was the World Cup.

"The players were fantastic. After I told them, we had our best training session in the three weeks of our preparation so we were very happy but in the end the president took that decision.

"It was a very hard moment and I will never forget it because it was a surprise. I felt it was very unfair.

"It was a five-hour flight home from Moscow to Madrid and I did not say anything but that is life. It was a very hard experience but you need to try and put it in a positive situation."

Lopetegui's fortunes would not improve upon moving to Los Blancos to succeed three-time Champions League winner Zinedine Zidane.

Julen Lopetegui Real Madrid 2018-19

Real won five of the opening six games of the regular season but a run of seven without a win, which included a humiliating 5-1 defeat to Barcelona in El Clasico, saw him dismissed in October.

"We had a good start, the team was playing well but then we had three very bad weeks," explained Lopetegui, who had been unbeaten in his 20 games in charge.

"You just hope you have time to find a solution because these things can balance out over a season. We were sure this situation was going to pass.

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"I didn't have time, that is the best way I can explain it."

"I have all respect for the new coach [Santiago Solari], his new staff. And the players - I love them, they had a fantastic attitude with me.

"I would never say a bad word about Real Madrid. To manage the club is a fantastic experience for any coach. I hoped I could have more time but I have to look to the future."

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