Ranking the Most Decorated Managers in European Competition History
If Real Madrid win the Champions League on Saturday, manager Carlo Ancelotti will become just the second manager to have won three European Cups.
If Atletico Madrid triumph in Lisbon, Portugal, Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone will join the illustrious club of coaches to have lifted the trophy at all.
So who are the most successful managers in European competition history?
The following slideshow will look at 23 of them—compiling successes between European Cups, UEFA Cups and Europa Leagues and, finally, Cup Winners’ Cups.
Other honours, such as the Super Cup and Intertoto Cup, have not been included in the ranking, nor has the old Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
For this exercise we’re concerned with the three most prestigious continental honours, and those managers level on two trophies apiece have been arranged chronologically.
23. Luis Carniglia
Argentina-born Luis Carniglia was an accomplished attacker, winning titles with both Boca Juniors and French side Nice. But as a manager he guided Real Madrid to European Cup glory in both 1958 and 1959—the latter final leading to his exit after his controversial benching of Ferenc Puskas.
22. Bela Guttman
We’ve heard lots about the “curse of Bela Guttman” in recent days, what with Benfica falling short in last week’s Europa League final. An accomplished defender as a player, Guttman led Benfica to back-to-back European Cups in 1961 and 1962. But after being let go by the club he supposedly remarked that Benfica would not be European champions for another hundred years.
21. Helenio Herrera
One of the great managers in the Italian pantheon of great managers, Helenio Herrera won league titles at both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona before moving to Inter Milan in 1960. It was with the Nerazzurri that he would form the famous “Grande Inter,” and in 1964 and 1965 the Serie A giants won the European Cup.
20. Miguel Munoz
Miguel Munoz was part of the great Real Madrid teams assembled by legendary club president Santiago Bernabeu, and between 1956 and 1958 he won three successive European Cups as a midfielder for Los Blancos. His success in Europe continued into management, and in 1960 and 1966 he continued Madrid’s love affair with club football’s most prestigious prize.
19. Stefan Kovacs
Stefan Kovacs had a pedigree as a tactical visionary while managing Romanian giants Steaua Bucharest—something he only enhanced following his appointment at Ajax in 1971. In each of the next two seasons he delivered league and European Cup doubles with a team that included the likes of Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens and Johnny Rep.
18. Dettmar Cramer
Udo Lattek had already delivered the 1974 European Cup when he was sacked in 1975. But his replacement, the Franz Beckenbauer-recommended Dettmar Cramer, would pick up where he left off, guiding Bayern Munich to the title in both 1975 and 1976.
17. Brian Clough
When Brian Clough agreed to join Nottingham Forest, the City Ground side were struggling in the old division two. But just over five years later they were European champions, having beaten Malmo in Munich. Twelve months later they were back at the top of the mountain thanks to a 1-0 victory over Hamburg in Madrid.
16. Ernst Happel
Ernst Happel was a ground-breaker—the first manager to win domestic titles in four different countries and the first two lift the European Cup with two different clubs. He did it the first time with Feyenoord, who beat Celtic in the 1970 final, and 13 years later his Hamburg side beat Juventus in Athens.
15. Arrigo Sacchi
By now, Arrigo Sacchi’s story is well known—the shoe-maker who became AC Milan manager, used a zonal marking system and won back-to-back European Cups with one of the greatest club sides of all time. Sacchi’s Milan won the competition in both 1989 and 1990 when they beat Steaua Bucharest and Benfica with teams including the likes of Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten.
14. Ottmar Hitzfeld
Ottmar Hitzfeld, now 65 years old, has been a first-team manager for more than 30 years—his initial job being at Swiss side Zug 94. He is presently the Switzerland boss and in a few weeks’ time will be taking his side to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. But in 1997 he was a European Champion with Borussia Dortmund, and he added a second Champions League title to his CV in 2001 with Bayern Munich.
13. Vicente Del Bosque
These days, Vicente del Bosque is best known for his feats with the Spanish national team, which have so far included World Cup and European Championship honours. But the professorial del Bosque has also been successful at club level, and in 2000 and 2002 he guided Real Madrid’s “galacticos” to Champions League titles.
12. Carlo Ancelotti
Carlo Ancelotti was a player in the legendary Arrigo Sacchi sides, but he has also won a pair of European Cups so far in his managerial career. The first came at Old Trafford in 2003, when his AC Milan outfit beat Juventus on penalties following a dreadful final. Then, in 2007, a pair of Filippo Inzaghi goals helped the Rossoneri to a 2-1 win over Liverpool.
11. Pep Guardiola
He came up a bit short with Bayern Munich this season, but as Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola guided one of the greatest sides in club football history to Champions League glory in both 2009 and 2011. On both occasions the opponent was Manchester United, but in neither did the Barcelona of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi even look like losing.
10. Jupp Heynckes
Speaking of great sides, last season’s Bayern Munich—managed by Jupp Heynckes—finished 25 points clear atop the Bundesliga and also won both the DFB-Pokal and UEFA Champions League. The latter was Heynckes’ second continental honour, as he had also managed Real Madrid to the European Cup in 1997-98.
9. Johan Cruyff
Johan Cruyff won a trio of European titles while in charge of Barcelona between 1988 and 1996, including the 1992 European Cup. The Dutchman’s Catalan “Dream Team” of Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoichkov, Txiki Begiristain and Pep Guardiola also won the 1989 Cup Winners’ Cup—a trophy he had won for the first time as a manager during his time at Ajax.
8. Udo Lattek
Over the course of his career, Udo Lattek won each of the European Cup, UEFA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup. While at Bayern Munich, the former striker guided the Bavarian giants to victory over Atletico Madrid in the European Cup final, and his UEFA Cup win came five years later—in 1979—with Borussia Monchengladbach. Then, as manager of Barcelona, he added the Cup Winners’ Cup to his trophy cabinet in 1982.
7. Rafael Benitez
Rafael Benitez tasted European success for the first time in 2004 when he won a league and UEFA Cup double with Valencia. The very next year he lifted the European Cup as manager of Liverpool following a thrilling, come-from-behind win over AC Milan in the Istanbul final, and just last season he won the Europa League with Chelsea.
6. Jose Villalonga
The European Cup’s first winning manager was Jose Villalonga Llorente, who accomplished the feat in both 1956 and 1957 with Real Madrid. His success on the continent continued after a cross-town move to Atletico Madrid, for whom he delivered the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1962.
5. Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho was just 40 years old when he guided Porto to a Primeira Liga and UEFA Cup double in 2002-03, and just a year later he delivered a league and Champions League double to Estadio do Dragao. His subsequent job at Chelsea, where he styled himself “The Special One,” didn’t yield any European silverware, but in 2010 he completed a historic league, cup and Champions League treble with Inter Milan.
4. Nereo Rocco
A pioneer of the “catenaccio” style of football, Nereo Rocco won two league titles and three domestic cups while in charge of AC Milan. He also helped the Rossoneri to the European Cup in both 1963 and 1969, and his teams also claimed the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1968 and 1973.
3. Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson is synonymous with Manchester United, but as manager of Aberdeen between 1978 and 1986 he broke up the Celtic-Rangers duopoly in Scotland’s Premier Division and also masterminded a 1982-83 Cup Winners’ Cup campaign that reached its climax in a 2-1 final win over a Real Madrid side managed by Alfredo Di Stefano. More recently, Ferguson led United to a pair of Champions League triumphs in 1999 and 2008, and he also guided the Red Devils to the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1991.
2. Bob Paisley
Bob Paisley is the only manager to have won three European Cups. His, and Liverpool’s, first came in 1977 when the Reds beat Borussia Monchengladbach 3-1 in Rome. A year later they successfully defended the trophy after a 1-0 win over Brugge at Wembley. The third came in 1981 at Parc des Princes, where they beat Real Madrid 1-0. Paisley’s Liverpool also won the UEFA Cup in 1976.
1. Giovanni Trapattoni
In total, Giovanni Trapattoni won seven European honours—five of them between the European Cup, UEFA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup. A decorated player from his days at AC Milan, Il Trap took his winning mentality to Juventus in 1976, where nine years later he delivered an elusive European Cup. He also won a pair of UEFA Cup titles with the Bianconeri—the first in 1977 and the second in 1993, during his second spell at the club. In 1984 he claimed the Cup Winners’ Cup for the club, and his lone European title away from Juventus came in 1991 when he won the UEFA Cup with Inter Milan.
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