Best Players Who Became Coaches
There are a number of great managers who learnt their trade after a less-than-successful playing career.
Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho are two of the finest examples of this. Mourinho's playing career lasted just eight years before embarking on a life in coaching, via numerous routes that included Sir Bobby Robson's translator at Sporting Lisbon, Porto and Barcelona.
However, there are a number of the world's best coaches that flourished following glistening careers playing the game.
Here are five of the best players that became coaches.
There are, of course, many, many examples of this, so if you'd think one of the following should be replaced by a manager of your choice, then let me know on the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Dutch legend Johann Cruyff is considered among the best players to have ever graced the beautiful game. The former Ajax and Barcelona player won the Ballon d'Or three times as a player and led the Dutch national team to the World Cup final in 1974, which they lost to fierce rivals Germany. Cruyff received the World Cup Golden Ball as player of the tournament, however.
Among his honours as a player he claimed the European Cup three times and Eredivisie title eight times with Ajax, one with Feyenoord and Spanish league and cup trophies with Barcelona.
The Dutch forward returned to Ajax as manager in 1985 after two spells as a player with the Amsterdam club. During his three-year stint with Ajax, Cruyff led his side to European Cup Winners' Cup glory as well as claiming two Dutch cup trophies.
His most successful stint as a manager came during his time with Barcelona, between 1988-1995 where his side won a European Cup and European Super Cup as well as numerous league and domestic cup titles.
Cruyff's last job as a manager ended in 2013 after spending four years with the Catalonia national team.
“King” Kenny Dalglish had an illustrious 21-year career with Celtic and Liverpool and is held in high regard among both sets of fans.
After starting his career with the Scottish giants, Dalglish went on to score 112 goals in 204 league matches for the Hoops, winning nine trophies along the way before a transfer to Liverpool in 1977.
The Scot spent a total of 13 years with Liverpool, notching 199 goals in 355 league appearances, and was made player-manager in 1985.
Dalglish won an astonishing 23 trophies as a player with the Reds, including six league trophies and three European Cups, and he proved to be just as successful as a manager—picking up a further 11 titles.
He resigned from Liverpool in 1991 before moving to fellow English side Blackburn where he won Rovers' first and only Premier League title.
Dalglish later spent short stints in charge of Newcastle United and Celtic before returning to Liverpool in 2011, though his second spell at the helm of his beloved Liverpool ended in disaster as he was sacked a year later.
Josep Guardiola made 378 league appearances in club football during a 16-year career, though 322 of them were for his beloved Barcelona.
A splendid defensive midfielder, Guardiola epitomised everything Barcelona stand for on and off the pitch. Economical yet flamboyant and with a work rate second to none, it was no wonder the Spaniard collected numerous awards during his time with the Catalan club.
During his 11-year stint with the Blaugrana, Guardiola won six league titles, two cup titles, the European Cup Winners' Cup and European Super Cup. He was also a member of Johann Cruyff's dream team that were crowned European Cup champions for the first time during the 1991/92 season.
Guardiola left Barca in 2001 and enjoyed stints in Italy, Qatar and Mexico before calling time on a glistening career in 2006.
One year later he was named coach of the Barcelona B side and instantly led them to promotion. He was subsequently named as the man to replace the outgoing Frank Rijkaard who was then in charge of the La Liga side.
Guardiola spent four years in charge of Barcelona and imprinted his own style of play on the Spanish giants.
Some of the world's best players—including the likes of Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic—came and left whilst “Pep” was in charge, though a solid spine made up of players that had graduated from the famed La Masia academy remained.
Guardiola's influence on his Barcelona side was based on greater focus on possession and a disciplined and aggressive pressing style, whilst moving the ball amongst the 11 players at a fast and stylish pace.
Guardiola's Barcelona claimed 14 trophies in the four years he was at the club, winning the league three times and the league cup, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup all twice.
The Spaniard left his boyhood club in 2012, taking a year's sabbatical before taking charge of Champions League winners Bayern Munich in 2013, replacing the outgoing Jupp Heynckes.
His first task as boss of the Bavarian club was to win the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, which he duly did.
Franz Beckenbauer is regarded as the greatest German footballer of all time. “Der Kaiser” is one of the most decorated players in history and had successful career as a manager following his retirement.
Munich-born Beckenbauer started his youth career with Bayern Munich, graduating to their first team in 1964. He spent 13 years with the Bavarian club, making 427 league appearances and chipped in with 60 goals—not a bad return for a defender.
Beckenbauer wasn't your everyday sweeper, however. His elegant style on the ball, imposing presence on the pitch and leadership skills separated him from the rest and catapulted him into the upper echelons of footballing greats.
“Der Kaiser” has three European Cup medals and a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup medal with Bayern Munich—a feat not many others can match. Beckenbauer's club success was also replicated during his international career as he helped West Germany to World Cup success in 1974 and European Championship success in 1972.
Beckenbauer retired in 1983 but was installed as the coach of West Germany a year later. He spent six years at the helm of Die Mannschaft, but was unable to lead them to glory during his first World Cup as they lost to Argentina in 1986. He persevered with his international endeavours, however, and exacted revenge four years later, guiding his team past Argentina in the final of the 1990 World Cup.
He then moved into club management, taking over as the boss of Olympique Marseille in 1993, but spent just four months with the French club before resigning. Beckenbauer then had two brief spells in charge of Bayern Munich, but was able to won the league title in 1994 and UEFA Cup in 1996.
Carlo Ancelotti is undoubtedly one of the finest managers in club football, but the Italian was a terrific footballer before his time in charge of numerous European sides.
Ancelotti spent his career as an effective midfielder and enjoyed a successful spell as the captain of Roma—after leaving boyhood club Parma. During his time in the Italian capital he led his side to a league title and four cup titles before moving to giants Milan in 1987. And it was with Milan where Ancelotti thrived, claiming a further two league titles.
He was part of a legendary Milan side that won back-to-back European cups in 1988/98 and 1989/90. That same Milan side dominated Europe during those two seasons, winning the UEFA Super Cup and Intercontinental Cup on both occasions.
Following his retirement, the Italian had spells at the helm of Reggiana, Parma and Juventus before being appointed Milan manager in 2001.
An eight-year spell in charge of the Rossoneri saw Ancelotti win the league in 2004, the league cup in 2003 and the Champions Leaague in 2003 and 2007. The Champions League triumphs secured Ancelotti's place in history, becoming just one of six men to win the trophy as both a player and a manager.
The Italian was appointed the manager of Chelsea in 2009 and led the Blues to historic Premier League and FA Cup double. He was dismissed in 2011 but joined mega-rich Paris Saint-Germain and led them to league glory during the 2012/13 campaign—his first full season in charge.
In May of 2013, the Italian requested to leave the French giants to join Real Madrid, replacing Chelsea-bound Jose Mourinho.
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