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My dad’s a champion stone lifter, now I’m making my own way as a manager

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JULEN LOPETEGUI grew up idolising his stone lifter dad who made headlines long before his son won over fans across the world.

Jose Antonio Lopetegui, 94, reached fame in his craft and inspired Julen, 57, to carve his own path to greatness, but in a completely different sport.

Julen Lopetegui's father Jose Antonio was a famous stone lifter

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Julen Lopetegui’s father Jose Antonio was a famous stone lifterCredit: Paco Marí
Lopetegui learned a lot from his father and will be bringing his principles to West Ham

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Lopetegui learned a lot from his father and will be bringing his principles to West HamCredit: PA

There is also a famous photo showing the strongman hoisting both of his baby daughters, one on each hand, while his young son was standing next to them.

The Spaniard, who seems set to take over at West Ham, was the only member of the family who ended up loving football but still absorbed his father’s values.

Julen previously said: “He was very recognised in stone lifting in an era when it was much bigger than it is now and you could make a living from it.

“He was a great athlete in various sports but he didn’t play football.

“In fact, I’m the black sheep of the family because my brother was a Basque pelota player for many years at a high professional level.”

Jose Antonio taught Julen the importance of hard work and dedication to one’s passion.

Those were characteristics that the former goalkeeper needed after his acrimonious dismissals from Spain and Real Madrid.

The Spaniard had his national team cruising to the 2018 World Cup with a 20-game unbeaten record that saw them winning a staggering 14 matches along the way.

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But higher-ups sacked Julen on the eve of the competition in Russia because he agreed to join Real Madrid after the tournament and they didn’t take kindly to him negotiating ahead of the World Cup.

And his return to Real, where he played before his retirement, didn’t work out as he was let go after just two months in charge because of a poor start to the campaign.

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However, Julen made the most out of the perseverance his father taught him and went on to succeed at Sevilla as well as Wolves.

And now the ex-Porto boss is set to bring his same principles to West Ham with reports suggesting he has agreed terms with the club.

The former Barcelona star is expected to replace outgoing manager David Moyes who will leave at the end of the season.

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