Spain coach Luis Enrique opens up at World Cup

Bicycle tours. Streaming Sessions. Instagram posts. Honest talk about sex, politics and his dead daughter.

Luis Enrique, not long ago seen as one of the most uptight coaches in football, has opened up at the World Cup.

He is more accessible than ever in Qatar, showing his lighter side and providing unprecedented insights about himself.

As the games continue, 52-year-old Luis Enrique does his utmost to connect with fans and talk about the most diverse – and controversial – topics.

“Good morning. It’s day 20 in training camp,” he said in a self-filmed video posted to Instagram on Saturday.

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“I start the morning in the best way possible by going to the gym. It’s about 7.20am and I’d like to say hello to all the fans, especially those in Barcelona who gather to watch the national team games.” He ended the video by singing part of a song that he said represented Spain’s hopes of staying in Qatar until the final.

Luis Enrique has clearly made an effort to change his image.

He surprised everyone when he announced before the World Cup that he would be streaming live on Twitch during the tournament. His number of followers on the platform went from about 50,000 to more than 790,000 since his announcement.

“Streamers of the world, step aside,” he’d said.

During his streams, the coach has spoken openly about a number of provocative topics.

Luis Enrique said he allows players to have sex before games because it’s “a very normal thing” as long as they don’t “get into an orgy the night before a game, which wouldn’t be ideal”. He spoke a few times about his eldest daughter’s relationship with Spanish striker Ferran Torres, joking that he would immediately drop the player from the squad if he scored a goal and celebrating in some way, referring to a baby.

The coach also dabbled in politics at one point, giving advice to local politicians and telling them all to leave their posts if they couldn’t keep at least half of their promises in the first year.

In another stream, he didn’t hesitate to answer a fan’s question if he was wearing boxers or briefs: “I’m wearing thongs! Aren’t you wearing a thong?” he said with a big smile.

“It’s a joke – if my wife sees this, she will kill me.” Luis Enrique, who leads Ironman triathlons and posted a few photos of him shirtless and in good shape while in Qatar, also spoke about his diet, food preferences, dating sites and football concepts.

He promised to get a piercing and dye his hair if Spain win the World Cup.

The coach said that he will eventually donate what he earns from his streams.

On Instagram, Luis Enrique has often posted photos from his bike rides in Qatar, including one at the Lusail Stadium where the World Cup final will be played – saying “hopefully we’ll be there” to try and win the title.

Luis Enrique has always been an avid motorcyclist, and during a call-up from Spain’s World Cup squad, he announced the names of the players in a pre-recorded video as he cycled backcountry roads near Madrid.

It was in one of the messages from his rides that Luis Enrique remembered his late daughter Xana Martínez, who died three years ago from a rare form of bone cancer. He sent her well wishes from his bike in Qatar on the day she would have turned 13.

Later at a post-game press conference, Luis Enrique talked about the “special day” for him and his family.

“Of course we don’t have our daughter physically with us anymore, but she’s still there every day,” he said.

“We remember her a lot, we laugh and think about how she would act in any situation we face.” The former Barcelona player and coach temporarily left the national team after learning about his daughter’s cancer.

This is Luis Enrique’s first World Cup as a coach and he is trying to lead Spain to its second world title. La Roja will meet Morocco in the eighth finals on Tuesday.

Some have said Luis Enrique’s change was part of a larger marketing strategy by the Spanish Football Federation to improve the image of the national team. But he guarantees that it all came very naturally to him.

“This is me,” he said, dismissing a fan who suggested the coach was drunk while streaming.

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