Spanish football federation on Sunday announced the resignation of Fernando Hierro, who stood in as coach when Julen Lopetegui was sacked on the eve of the World Cup.

The former Real Madrid and Spain defender, who had little previous coaching experience lost on penalties to host nation Russia in the last 16 stage of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

“After travelling many kilometres together, the Spanish Football Federation and Fernando Hierro have put an end to their relationship,” the federation said on Sunday.

Hierro declined to return to his previous job as the federation’s technical director and “will undertake new professional challenges”, the federation wrote.

Spain was tipped among the favourites until Lopetegui caused chaos by announcing he would become Real Madrid’s new coach after the World Cup.

The federation, fearing a split between players from Barcelona and Real, sacked Lopetegui two days before Spain’s opening game against Portugal.

He described the sack as the saddest day of his life since the death of his mother.

Andres Iniesta, the former Barcelona great who scored the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final, retired from the international team after the defeat to Russia.