By Andrew Atkinson
Fernando Hierro, Spain’s 2018 World Cup unexpected coach in charge of the national side in Russia in the wake of the sacking of Julen Lopetegui, has high praise of ex England coach Sam Allardyce.
“I don’t know how he did it,” said Hierro, of ‘Big Sam’, when in charge of Bolton Wanderers.
It was Allardyce who signed former Real Madrid star Hierro at Bolton in 2004: “Sam even made sure there was tea available to drink”, reflected Hierro.
Hierro has found himself in at the deep end in Russia, after the axe swung on Lopetegui, after taking the vacancy at Madrid when replacing Zinidene Zidane, who quit after leading the club to the Champions League trophy win last month.
Hierro, who made 21 appearances for Bolton, said: “Bolton had shown an interest in 2003, but I had to sort things out at Madrid.
“When I joined them in 2014 I rejected offers from Mexico, Spain and the USA. I had a desire to do well.”
Allardyce initially left Hierro warming the bench following his arrival and the Spain coach said: “It was uncomfortable sitting on the bench.
“But I never went knocking on the manager’s door.”
Hierro managed to break into the first team line up – and helped Bolton reach Europe – for the first time in the club’s history.
“I’d wanted to play for a club in England since playing at Wembley at Euro 96,” said Hierro.
Hierro said: “When I left Bolton I wanted to be remembered as a model professional.
“If you are united as a team you can stop any opponent.”
Hierro will take charge of Spain’s World Cup games against Iran on June 20 and against Morocco on June 25, on the back of their thrilling opening 3-3 draw against Portugal on June 15.