Julen Lopetegui speaks of his respect for Spain captain Iker Casillas and his achievements, but ‘I won’t take a decision because of that.’
Lopetegui succeeded Vicente del Bosque after Euro 2016 with his predecessor dropping the skipper for the tournament in favour of David De Gea, and while the new man hasn’t spoken with the veteran, he insists decisions will be made on merit.
“You have to be respectful of players who have been with the national team a long time. Casillas is one of them, but there is more. I’m sensitive to everything he has won, very respectful and affectionate with his record and his commitment to the team. But I won’t take decisions because of that. I’ll take them for performance. That’s in Casillas’ case and everyone else’s,” Lopetegui told AS.
“I haven’t spoken with him. I’ve spoken with some of the players but not yet others. With respect to what happened at Euro 2016, I wasn’t there and I won’t comment on that. I won’t look back. I insist, the first criteria to be in a squad is performance, beyond the respect for players who have longevity.”
Lopetegui was also asked about Pedro Rodriguez, who fell afoul of Del Bosque after going public with his unhappiness at not being among the former Coach’s starting XI.
“The national team has players who are normally starters, important in their teams, and they tend to be from big teams. This isn’t easy. But if they are big-name players they also have to be great athletes and they must understand that they are intelligent and know they have to adapt to a role,” he considered.
“Obviously some players will have more importance than others, but that’s good. I’m confident there’ll be a good bond between everyone and it’s everyone’s responsibility to make it possible. I’m not worried about this issue because we’ll require the players to take responsibility because that role touches everyone.
“Pedro is selectable. He has a history with the national team and I look forward to his performance. What happened in the Euros is a closed subject. It makes no sense to go back and I’m not going to do it.”