MADRID — Returning Spain coach Luis Enrique on Wednesday accused Robert Moreno of being disloyal for not wanting him to regain the job until after the 2020 European Championship.
Moreno was promoted from assistant coach to take charge of Spain in June when Luis Enrique left to be with his ill 9-year-old daughter. She died in August after a five-month battle against a type of bone cancer.
Luis Enrique was re-hired earlier this month to lead Spain after Moreno had secured the team's spot at Euro 2020.
During a meeting at Luis Enrique's home in September, Moreno said he wanted to remain leading the team.
"It was clear that he wanted to be at the Euros, and that after the Euros, if I wanted, he would be my assistant again," Luis Enrique said. "I understand that he wants to the be national team coach, that it was the chance of his life, that he worked hard to reach this moment.
"But to me, it was disloyal. I would never have done that. I and don't want anybody with these characteristics in my staff. To me, being overambitious is not a virtue, it's a flaw. I understand his position, but I don't agree with it."
Luis Enrique said he was already expecting Moreno to try to stay in the job because he had been acting differently recently. He said the meeting at his house was the first time the two spoke to each other in a few months.
"I told him that I didn't see him as my assistant anymore," said Luis Enrique, whose contract with the Spanish soccer federation runs until after the 2022 World Cup. "I told him that I feel strong, that I'm excited about getting back to work."
Moreno said after being replaced that it was an "uncomfortable situation." In an earlier statement, Moreno said he has always been a man of his word, and that he would not stay in Luis Enrique's way if he wanted to return.
Luis Enrique praised Moreno's job as a coach and said he was pleased with how the national team has been playing. Spain finished first in its qualifying group for Euro 2020.
"We learned a lot from Robert Moreno, we won't see many different things after my return," he said. "There will be nuances, I'll try to make it better, but there won't be a big change."
The former Barcelona coach said it was special to be back with the national team.
"It's a very special day for me and for my family," he said. "I'm coming back home to finish the project that I started."
He said he was keen to resume work as soon as possible to help him — and his family — move on from his daughter's death.
"It didn't take long before I realized that I wanted to get my life back and show my family that life goes on," he said.