5 Soccer Coaches Who Could Still Compete on the Pitch

Guido Fargiorgio@WorldBGuidCorrespondent IDecember 3, 2012

5 Soccer Coaches Who Could Still Compete on the Pitch

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    The overall success of a soccer player is not a good indicator of his potential as a coach.

    There's a certain level of experience that is expected of a person interested in managing a football club, and that's why, more often than not, managers are former players who know the ins and outs of the grueling season.

    While you never know what's going to happen unless you are given a chance, and there are great managers who were mediocre players and vice-versa, the common theme is that managers often played football before they started coaching.

    We'll have to suspend a bit of disbelief when talking about coaches who can still play, the beauty of soccer though, or any sport for that matter, is that natural ability doesn't necessarily go away.

    There may be some wear and tear on the body, but skills can endure.

1. Diego Simeone

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    Before his time as Atletico Madrid's manager, Diego Simeone was plying his trade as a defensive midfielder for many teams, including the one he currently manages.

    Simeone enjoyed success during two stints in the Spanish capital with Atletico, as well as  with Inter and Lazio in Italy's Serie A.

    While Simeone, as a defensive midfielder, was not typically in the spotlight, he does have a few memorable moments as a player. He won domestic doubles with both Atletico and Lazio. Also, in his last game for Lazio, he scored a goal that prevented his former team, Inter, from winning the scudetto.

    He was also involved in a rather infamous incident during the 1998 World Cup knockout stages.

    After fouling David Beckham, and after Beckham retaliated, Simeone fell to the ground, seemingly injured. Simeone later admitted that he embellished the injury to get Beckham sent off.

    Despite that blemish, Simeone was a strong player with important roles for both club and country. He even owns more caps than Diego Maradona.

    Simeone's hard-nosed tackling and strong defense, despite him being 42, could probably still hold up in today's game.

2. Ole Gunnar Solskjær

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    Ole Gunnar Solskjær is one of the rare breed of new, younger managers. He is currently coaching Tippeligaen champions Molde FK.

    However, Solskjær was an accomplished player, as well.

    Solskjær spent two seasons with Molde before completing a move to Manchester United. It was his time at United that saw the young Norwegian make an impressive name for himself.

    In 336 appearances for United, he amassed 126 goals. It wasn't just the fact that Solskjær scored plenty of goals; it was when he scored them that gained him much fame.

    Solskjær was a super-sub for United and his late goals were often the most important.

    None more so than his goal in the 1999 Champions League Final that sealed the game and gave United its "treble" victory. The goal is the stuff of legend and a testament to the clutch ability of the Norwegian.

    A knee injury ultimately ended his playing career early, though he was set to retire that season anyway, but Solskjær, still only 39, could still be out there scoring timely goals today.

3. Dennis Bergkamp

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    Though Dennis Bergkamp is just an assistant at Ajax, he was one of the best to ever put on an Arsenal shirt.

    Bergkamp's impressive career started at Ajax. In his seven years for the Dutch club, Bergkamp scored in nearly half of the 239 games he featured in. His impressive skill caught the attention of European clubs, and the Dutchman eventually found himself in Italy.

    His time at Inter, however, was short and disappointing. Though the blame for poor form is not entirely Bergkamp's, things didn't work out and he decided to move on from the Italian club.

    His move to Arsenal rejuvenated his career and proved that he was still one of the best forwards of his time.

    In addition to club success, Bergkamp was prolific for his country as well. His 37 goals were the most ever for the Dutch squad, until Patrick Kluivert eventually surpassed him.

    Bergkamp retired in 2006 at age 37, but, despite being 43 now, could still give it a go.

    Hey, Arsenal could use a true support striker (I kid, I kid).

4. Jurgen Klinsmann

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    Alright, so it's time to suspend reality just a bit. Even at 48, Jurgen Klinsmann still has it and could go out there and play.

    While he was a bit of a roamer, never staying with a club for too long, Klinsmann was a tremendous striker during his heyday. He rose to fame with Vfb Stuttgart, and after an impressive five seasons completed a move to Inter.

    Though he never won the league title, Klinsmann did manage to capture the UEFA Cup with Inter before moving on. After leaving Italy, he added successful stops at AS Monaco, Bayern Munich and Tottenham to his already impressive resume.

    Klinsmann was also an integral part of Germany's international squad. He was crucial in the German side capturing their third title at the 1990 World Cup, and he is the third-highest scorer in team history.

    What's surprising about Klinsmann being on this list, though, is his age. Yes, 48 is old, but have you seen Klinsmann lately? He is in great shape and it looks like he's barely aged since he hung up his boots in 2003.

5. Pep Guardiola

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    Pep Guardiola's success as Barcelona's coach is well-documented. Not to be overshadowed, though, is his quality playing career.

    Before he took over at Barca, Guardiola's name may have been familiar, but, much like Diego Simeone, not world-famous, due to his position. A defensive midfielder by trade, Guardiola was one of the best prospects rising through the Barcelona youth ranks, before he was picked by then-manager Johan Cruyff to join the first team.

    Cruyff thought he found something special in Guardiola, and he was right. Guardiola's spot in the midfield was one he would relinquish only to injury in his 12 seasons.

    Eventually, he felt it was time to move on and tried his luck in Italy. His time on the peninsula, however, was marred by a positive drug test and subsequent four-month ban (of which he was eventually cleared).

    At 41, Guardiola is still in playing shape and could still help out a few defenses needing plugs in the midfield.