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10 Famous players who became managers of their clubs 

Zidane on round two of managing Real Madrid
Zidane on round two of managing Real Madrid

It's very common to see footballers turning into managers after hanging up their boots. They may manage a club that they played for or an entirely new team altogether. But these player-turned-managers are no safe bets, as many high-profile names fail at the highest level of football management, with Thierry Henry's stint at AS Monaco being the latest example.

With all that in mind, we should not forget some of the greats, who have been equally good at playing and then managing. Zinedine Zidane is the most recent example, with the Frenchman winning three successive Champions League titles with Real Madrid.

Now let's take a look at 10 famous players who switched to the management side of their favourite clubs after retiring.


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

From caretaker to full-fledged manager
From caretaker to full-fledged manager

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer enjoyed a brilliant playing career, starting with Clausenengen before finishing it at Manchester United. The United journey saw him winning the famous treble in 1999, along with all major club honours available at that time.

The Norwegian started his managerial tenure almost immediately after retiring from the game. The first steps to management were made with the youth team of the Red Devils, as Solskjaer was named the Manchester United reserves manager.

Two years later, Solskjaer took his first big step into management as he returned to Molde to manage the Norwegian side. He won the league twice and the domestic cup once in his first stint with the club. Solskjaer then made a disastrous move back to England with Cardiff City before returning to Norway for his second spell.

The second coming was not trophy-laden like the first but saw Solskjaer once again working miracles with the Norwegian club. Once again, the Premier League came calling for him three years later, but this time it were his beloved former club Manchester United. Solskjaer was given the caretaker role after Jose Mourinho was removed from his managerial duties in December.

The impressive performances under the Norwegian saw the Manchester United board giving him the job on a permanent basis on the 28th of March.

Zinedine Zidane

Zidane's re-appointment has seen spirits soaring
Zidane's re-appointment has seen spirits soaring

It's not always that a legend of the game during his playing career can replicate the level of greatness in the field of management. There have been umpteen examples of a legend failing at the management level, with Diego Maradona being one of the biggest examples to look upon when speaking about this fact.

Zidane has won everything in world football, right from individual accolades like the Balon d'Or to the World Cup and Champions League. The former French midfielder is often recognised as one of the greatest players ever to take the field.

Zinedine Zidane enjoyed 17 seasons as a professional player that saw him play for Cannes, Bordeaux, Juventus and finally ending his career with Real Madrid.

The French legend's path to management was slow, with Zidane going into it almost seven years after his retirement in 2013, when he was named as an assistant coach to Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid. The next season saw Zidane take the reigns of the B-team of the Spanish giants - Real Madrid Castilla.

Almost two seasons later, the call was made for Zidane to take up the reigns of the first team after Rafael Benitez was given the sack, following a poor run of results. The Real Madrid legend made his mark in the very first season as Los Blancos won the Champions League for the second time in three years.

The first full season as Real Madrid boss saw Zidane becoming the first manager to successfully defend the Champions League in the Champions League-era, and the first manager since Arrigo Sacchi, who did it with AC Milan in 1988-89 and 1989-90.

The third season under Zidane saw Los Blancos become the first team since Bayern Munich, between 1973 and 1976, to win three successive Champions League finals. Zidane also became the first manager to win three successive Champions League finals, while joining Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti as the only managers to win three Champions League titles.

The end of the season saw Zidane relinquishing his post as manager before re-joining Los Blancos on 11th of March this year after a poor run of results that saw Real Madrid lose to Barcelona, while also being knocked out of the Champions League by Ajax.

Kenny Dalglish

Back to Liverpool
Back to Liverpool

King Kenny as he is known to the Kop, enjoyed a long and prolific footballing career that stretched between 1968 and 1990, with his last few years at Liverpool reduced to just a handful of appearances after becoming the player-manager of the club.

Kenny Dalglish started his career with Celtic in 1968 and joined Liverpool in 1977 after winning every domestic trophy on offer in Scotland. Dalglish was signed in order to fill the void left by Kevin Keegan, who at the time earned the tag of being one of Liverpool's greatest ever strikers.

Dalglish quickly became a fan-favourite and helped establish Liverpool's dominance over the league. He helped the Reds win all trophies on offer before being appointed as the player-manager, following the resignation of Joe Fagan in 1985.

King Kenny spent fice seasons as a player-manager with Liverpool, making an odd appearance here and there in the seasons before finally calling it a day in 1990. Dalglish in his short spell helped Liverpool win all major domestic honours and till date remains the last manager to win the English first division/Premier League title with the Reds.

Dalglish then went on to manage Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United before joining his first club Celtic as the director of football before shortly taking the reigns of the club, following the sacking of John Barnes in 2000. The very short spell with Celtic saw Dalglish winning the Scottish League Cup before being given the sack, following the appointment of Martin O'Neil.

A swansong of sort followed when Kenny Dalglish was approached by Rafael Benitez to take up a role as Liverpool Ambassador before taking up the reigns once again in January of 2011, just 2 years after rejoining the club, following the sacking of the Spaniard and eventually replacing Roy Hodgson in the space of a year. The Scot only lasted a year but helped Liverpool win the 2012 Football League Cup, the Reds' last major trophy.

Graeme Souness

Souness does punditry these days
Souness does punditry these days

A man who is remembered for planting a Galatasaray flag in the middle of arch-rivals Fenerbahce's pitch, as well as being recently in the news due to his critical view of Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, is Graeme Souness.

He enjoyed 21 long seasons as a player, starting with Tottenham Hotspur before moving onto play for Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Sampdoria and finally ending it with Rangers, where he was also made the player-manager. The Scot midfielder enjoyed his most prolific years during his seven seasons with Liverpool that saw him winning every major honour available at the club level.

Souness reignited Rangers after becoming the player-manager in 1985, as he helped the then-fallen Scottish giants back into greatness with three league titles and four Scottish League Cups in his tenure. The former Liverpool man was a very influential figure in bringing back some of England's finest talents to Scotland, following the ban imposed on English teams in European competitions.

Souness then made the move to his beloved Liverpool in 1991 to replace his former teammate Dalglish. The return to Liverpool was more of a failure than success with the FA Cup being the only silverware that was brought to the Liverpool trophy cabinet during his tenure. Although he helped make way for the introduction of Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and David James into the first team but overall, the time under Souness was a disaster for the Reds.

Souness then went on to manage Galatasaray before going to join a number of clubs including Southampton, Torino, Benfica, Blackburn Rovers and finally Newcastle United. The former Liverpool man, however, failed to live up to the standards set by him during his playing career.

Nowadays the Scot is mostly seen as a football pundit rather than a manager.

Jupp Heynckes

Celtic FC v Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League
Celtic FC v Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League

It's easy to forget that former Real Madrid and Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes was, in fact, one of the greatest ever strikers to play in the Bundesliga.

The former striker has dedicated almost 60 years of his life to football, be it as a manager or a player, including his final cameo as the Bayern Munich manager last year. Heyneckes enjoyed 15 long years as a professional footballer before spending almost 40 years in the management field.

Heyneckes started his career with Borussia Monchengladbach and was part of the golden era of the Bundesliga side, enjoying two stints with the club before going onto becoming the side's manager. The first stint with Monchengladbach lasted just three years but he came back three years later to enjoy eight more seasons with his boyhood club.

Heyncekes ended his playing career with Borussia Monchengladbach as the highest goalscorer for the club in the league as well as ending as the third-highest goalscorer in the Bundesliga. In his playing career, Heyneckes has won all the domestic trophies on offer along with the UEFA Cup.

The managerial career of Heyneckes started the next season after he officially retired as a player. More renowned for his career with Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, Heyneckes spent almost eight years with Monchengladbach but failed to win any sort of trophies to showcase his achievements. He was nicknamed by the fans as "the champion without a title".

Heyneckes then went onto join Bayern Munich before making his move to Athletico Bilbao, Eintracht Frankfurt, Tenerife, Real Madrid, Benfica, again back at Athletico Bilbao and Schalke before returning to his beloved Monchengladbach almost 20 years since he made the move away from Borussia Park. His swansong ended poorly as the former striker resigned following a poor run of results.

Heyneckes ended his career with Bayern Munich in 2013 before coming back once again as a caretaker manager last year before officially calling it a day last year.

Heycknes has won every trophy there is to win in Germany as a player and as a manager and even has two Champions League titles to his name with Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

Pep Guardiola

Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: First Leg
Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: First Leg

Like Heynckes, Pep Guardiola's playing career is often overshadowed by the achievements and accolades he has received during his short but impressive coaching career. He was the orchestrator or you could say the player, who implemented Johan Cruyff's style in the Barcelona line-up during the legendary Dutchman's time at the Camp Nou.

Guardiola started his playing career with Barcelona and was the anchorman of Cruyff's dream team that won the Champions League in 1992. Like all the big names who played under him during his managerial tenure at Barcelona tenure such as Xavi, Iniesta, Messi etc, Guardiola was also a product of La Masia Academy and rose through that system.

Guardiola spent 17 years of his football career, right from the youth teams, with the Catalan club and helped them win almost every trophy on offer in club level before leaving in 2001 to join Brescia.

Guardiola then went onto join AS Roma, Brescia for the second time, Al-Ahli and finally Dorados before calling it a day in 2006.

The Spaniard returned to football a year later, joining the Barcelona reserve team as their manager, with future Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova as his assistant. Like Zidane, Guardiola was given the reigns of the first team the very next year as he replaced Frank Rijkaard.

The first season with Barcelona for Guardiola till date remains his best ever season as a manager, with the team doing a clean sweep of the Champions League, Copa del Rey and La Liga. That team was so good that many consider it to be the greatest ever team to play the game.

The next three seasons saw Guardiola cementing his place as one of the greatest managers in Spanish football, leading his side to another Champions League victory, while also winning the league and the domestic cup twice.

After Barcelona, Guardiola took a break from football before joining Bayern Munich and then later moving onto Manchester City where he manages presently.

Guardiola is one of the best managers in world football at the moment but his failure to win the Champions League with Bayern Munich as well as Manchester City remains a black mark on his impressive CV.

Carlo Ancelotti

Empoli v SSC Napoli - Serie A
Empoli v SSC Napoli - Serie A

Another player on the list whose managerial career outshines his playing one. Carlo Ancelotti was a solid midfielder during his playing career. He started off at Parma before moving to AS Roma and finally to AC Milan where he officially called it a day in 1992 after persistent knee injuries.

Like Heynckes, Ancelotti has been in the world of football for a very long time. The Italian enjoyed 16 seasons as a player and is now in his 24th year as a manager. Ancelotti's playing days are best remembered for his time with AS Roma and AC Milan. The Italian was part of the Giallorossi side that won their second ever Scudetto in 1983 as well as the only Roma side to reach the final of the European Cup.

The Italian then moved to AC Milan where he played a pivotal role in ushering their dominance over the Serie A. The midfielder was part of the side that won back-back to European Cups, the last team to do so before Real Madrid. Persistent knee injuries saw Ancelotti retiring from the game at the age of 33, winning every major club titles available at the moment.

Ancelotti's managerial career started with the Italian national side as he worked as an assistant to his former AC Milan boss Arrigo Sacchi. Three years with the national team was soon followed by his entry into club management as Ancelloti took charge of Reggiana.

A single season with Reggiana was soon followed by a move to his boyhood club Parma which lasted just two years, as Ancelotti was given the sack due to poor results. Two seasons with Juventus was followed by a return to San Siro as Ancelotti made his way into the hot-seat of the club where he won everything.

During Ancelotti's time at the San Siro, AC Milan enjoyed one of their finest eras post-Sacchi as they reached three Champions League finals in eight seasons, winning two of them. Ancelotti also had domestic success as the Rossoneri won every footballing trophy on offer at the club level. Like Guardiola's Barcelona, Ancelotti's AC Milan team are believed by many to be one of the greatest club sides ever.

Ancelotti resigned from AC Milan in 2009 and made his way into English football by joining London giants Chelsea. Two seasons with the Blues was followed by another two with PSG and later, another two with Real Madrid before taking a year off from management. Ancelotti joined Bayern Munich after his one year break but was soon sacked after string poor results, succeeded later by Heynckes. The former Italian midfielder joined Napoli this season replacing Maurizio Sarri, who went to join Chelsea.

Ancelotti remains one of the seven men to win the Champions League as a player and as a manager. He also is one of two men to have managed a team in four Champions League finals. The Italian is also one of the three managers to win the Champions League titles three times.

Vincente del Bosque

Vincente del Bosque
Vincente del Bosque

It is sad to note that many of the names on this list enjoyed exemplary playing careers but their managerial career outshines their playing ones.

Vincente del Bosque is mostly remembered as the man who ended Spain's 80-year long wait for the FIFA World Cup. In his hay days, Del Bosque was one of the best midfielders in the world. A one-club man, Del Bosque dedicated all his playing career to his boyhood club Real Madrid.

Del Bosque enjoyed 17 long seasons with Los Blancos and was instrumental in them winning five La Liga titles and four Copa del Reys. The Spaniard made 445 appearances for Los Blancos in all competitions before calling it a day in 1984.

Like Zidane, Del Bosque started his managerial career with Los Blancos. The Spaniard joined as the Real Madrid Castilla manager in 1987 and had two separate instances of taking up the caretaker role of Los Blancos before being given the reigns of the club permanently in 1999.

Under Del Bosque, Real Madrid ended their 32-year wait for the Champions League title, their first one in the Champions League-era, in his very first season. The former midfielder went on to win another Champions League along with La Liga, the Super Cup, the Intercontinental Cup and the Spanish Super Cup in his short but impressive four years as Real Madrid manager.

Del Bosque then went on to join Besiktas in 2004 but a string of poor results meant that the Spaniard was sacked during the season. A three-year hiatus was followed by becoming the manager of the Spanish national team.

With the national side, Del Bosque enjoyed his best ever moment as a player or as a coach as he guided the talented Spanish team to their first ever World Cup in 2010. He followed it up with another major trophy by winning the 2012 European Championship.

Del Bosque finally called it a day in 2016 after the 2016 European Championships. He, till date, remains the only manager to win the World Cup, the European Championship, the Champions League and the Intercontinental Cup.

Niko Kovac

Liverpool v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg
Liverpool v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

Unlike the other names on the list, Niko Kovac did not enjoy a trophy-laden playing career. His managerial career is also relatively new to be called as one of the best in the world.

Kovac enjoyed 18 long seasons as a footballer, starting his career with Hertha Berlin. Five seasons with Hertha was followed by a move to Bayer Leverkusen. Another three seasons later, Kovac was on the move again, this time joining Hamburg. A move to Bayern Munich soon followed before a reunion with Hertha Berlin. Kovac then joined Austrian club RB Salzburg in 2006 where he hung up his boot almost 3 years later.

Kovac spent 12 years with the national side and is the 11th most capped player for Croatia.

It is with Bayern Munich that Kovac enjoyed his most success, winning the Bundesliga and DFB Pokal as well as the Intercontinental Cup.

Kovac managerial career started with RB Salzburg the next season, working as coach of their junior team. A season later, Kovac was named the assistant coach before leaving the Austrian side in 2011. He then had a spell with the national side, joining as the U-21 manager in 2013 before being given the top job almost 10 months later, following the sacking of Igor Stimac. Kovac was given the sack in 2015, following a poor World Cup campaign.

Kovac returned to the Bundesliga in 2016, taking charge of Eintracht Frankfurt. The Croatian enjoyed three seasons with the club, guiding Frankfurt to Europe as well as their first ever trophy since 1988, last year as they beat Bayern Munich in the DFB-Pokal final. After three impressive seasons with Frankfurt, Kovac joined Bayern Munich last summer.

The Croatian is yet to impress the Bavarian faithful even though Bayern Munich currently sit atop the Bundesliga after a poor start to the season.

Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff
Johan Cruyff

An influential figure both as a player and as a manager to many world-class coaches as well as players of today. A pioneer in bringing forth the idea of "total football" along with his mentor Rinus Michels, the inventor of the much-replicated move, "Cruyff Turn" and one of the greatest players ever not win the World Cup. The list of accolades both as a player and as a coach put the Dutch international amongst the pantheons of world football.

Johan Cruyff started his playing career with his boyhood club Ajax and was part of the first golden generation of Ajax as well as Dutch football. The attacking midfielder in his first spell with the club spent 9 seasons and won 6 league titles 4 League Cups. The Dutch international also helped Ajax to win their first ever European Cup in 1971, a feat that was repeated in 1972 as well as 1973.

Cruyff was then sold to Barcelona in 1973 for a then-record transfer fee and he immediately made an impact at the Camp Nou. The Dutch international helped Barcelona win their first La Liga title in 14 years, breaking Real Madrid's wise grip on the league title. Cruyff spent 5 seasons with Barcelona before joining Los Angels Aztecs and Washington Diplomats in consecutive seasons.

A return to Spanish football soon followed when Cruyff signed for Levante in 1981. Injuries and disagreements meant Cruyff was on the move again, this time returning to his roots, joining Ajax. Cruyff helped Ajax to two more league titles in his two seasons with the club and won his third straight league title with Feyenoord after Cruyff moved to Ajax's arch-rivals in 1983 after the Amsterdam outfit did not offer a new contract to him.

Cruyff retired from football after winning his eighth Erediviese with Feyenoord in 1984. The international career of the great Dutch was short but impressive. The attacking midfielder was the main man for Rinus Michels when they reached the 1974 World Cup final but lost to West Germany after going 1-0 in the first five minutes. Till date, the Netherlands team of 1974 are said to be one of the greatest teams to never win a World Cup.

Cruyff started his managerial career with Ajax in 1985 and led them to two KNVB Cups and a UEFA Cup Winners Cup. Cruyff only spent three seasons as a manager with Ajax but he sowed the seeds that helped the club win their fourth Champions League, the first since 1973 when Cruyff led them to three successive titles.

In Barcelona, Cruyff enjoyed his biggest moments as a manager. His Barcelona team was considered to be the dream team with Pep Guardiola, Roald Koeman, Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoichkov and Romario in it. Under the legendary figure, Barcelona won four La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey, three Spanish Super Cups, one UEFA Cup Winners Cup, one UEFA Super Cup and the Champions League.

Johan Cruyff was sacked in 1996, following two trophyless seasons but the Dutch left Barcelona as their longest serving manager as well as the most successful manager with 11 trophies, a feat that would be later surpassed by his pupil Guardiola.

The legendary Dutch figure also had a small spell as the manager of the Catalonia national team between 2009 and 2013.

Cruyff is credited for turning La Masia into a world-class academy that produces world beaters today.

Sadly, Cruyff passed away on the March 24, 2016.

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Edited by Samya Majumdar
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