5 superstars who went on to become managers in the Indian Super League

Roberto Carlos was the head coach of Delhi Dynamos in the ISL 2015 season
Shubham Dupare

Isn't it just great to see legendary players back on the football pitch, even if it is in a managerial role? Well, I would prefer to see them back in action to be honest, but if they can be as good from the sidelines as they were on the pitch, why not give it a shot?

When players become the managers

It doesn't need much emphasizing that in recent years a lot of players have taken up football coaching as a full time profession. Some brilliant players have failed to make their marks, while some mediocre players have cemented their place as one of the best managers in the world.

Managers in the Indian Super League

The inaugural season of ISL was played in 2014. And not surprisingly all the head coaches of the teams were from overseas. But, what was quite surprising is that these managers included a World Cup winner and one of the greatest Brazilian player of all times among them.

And the list of star players trying out their luck at the helm of the teams had only increased over the next 3 seasons of ISL.

So, here's a list of the top 5 players who became managers in the ISL.

#5 David James

James is the current manager at Kerela Blasters FC. (Image: ISL)

David James, who literally earned the nickname, 'Calamity James' because of his tendency to be sloppy between the sticks, is the current head coach of Kerala Blasters.

While he will be remembered for his frequent blunders, it should not be forgotten that he was a great keeper nonetheless, who made some amazing saves back in the day. He held the record for most clean sheets in the Premier League before Cech surpassed him in 2015.

He is a one-time FA Cup winner with Portsmouth and League Cup winner with Liverpool. He represented England 53 times.

His journey in the ISL began when he was appointed as a player-manager for Kerala Blasters in the inaugural season. In that season he led them all the way to the finals, where they ran out of luck and lost to ATK.

He is back at the helm of the club again and will look forward to taking the team all the way to glory this time.

#4 Gianluca Zambrotta

Azzurri Stars Team Training Session
Zambrotta was the head coach of Delhi Dynamos for one season

2006 World Cup winner, Gianluca Zambrotta was appointed as the head coach of Delhi Dynamos for the 2016-17 ISL season.

Zambrotta is regarded as one of the best Italian full-backs in history. He was a successful player for both club and country, having won 3 Serie A titles with Juventus and AC Milan. But his biggest achievement was winning the 2006 World Cup winner's medal.

He decided to accept the managerial role in the third season of ISL with Delhi Dynamos, after a stint at Swiss club Chiasso. He led them to the semi-final play-offs that season, where they lost to Kerela Blasters on penalties.

After a decent season with the Indian club, he parted ways with them and moved onto China at Jiangsu Suning.

#3 Zico

Urawa Red Diamonds v Chapecoense - Suruga Bank Championship
Zico spent most his career playing for Brazilian side Flamengo.

Arthur Antunes Coimbra, better known as Zico is one of the legends of o jogo bonito. He was often called the 'White Pele' because of his exploits on the pitch.

He wore the iconic No.10 jersey for the Seleção. As an attacking midfielder his goalscoring stats are ridiculous. In 697 club games he scored 476 goals and in 71 matches for Brazil, he managed a staggering 48 goals.

But he will go down in the history books as one of the best players ever to have never won the World Cup in their careers.

He joined ISL side FC Goa as their head coach in the inaugural edition of the competition. He spent 3 years at the club, taking them to the finals in 2015. But after a disastrous 2016 season, the club let his contract expire and they parted ways.

He brought in World Cup winning players like Robert Pires and Lucio, while at the helm of the affairs at the club.

#2 Marco Matterazi

Marco Materazzi won the ISL with Chennaiyin FC in 2015.

Marco Materazzi, was one of the top Italian defenders in the long list of world-class center-backs produced by the Azzurri in the last decade.

He was a very successful player on club level, having won the Serie A 5 times, Coppa Italia 4 times and a Champions League with Inter Milan. While on the international stage for Italy he won the World Cup in 2006.

The 2006 World Cup final was arguably the most memorable match of his life. He did give away a penalty to France, but redeemed himself after scoring on the other end. But what makes the match memorable is his involvement in the infamous Zidane headbutt.

He was signed up by ISL side Chennaiyin FC in the inaugural season, where he also took up the role of player-manager. He had a successful first season, where he played 6 games in the campaign, in which they reached to the semi-finals.

He did not play a single game in the 2015 season, although he was still a player-manager. He focused more on the coaching side of his role and that proved fruitful as Chennaiyin were crowned the 2015 ISL champions.

He left the club the following season.

#1 Roberto Carlos

The Best FIFA Football Awards
Roberto Carlos joined Delhi Dynamos in 2015 as their Marquee signing

Roberto Carlos is widely regarded as one of the best left-backs of all time. He was one of the 'Galacticos' of the intimidating Real Madrid squad built up by Florentino Perez in the last decade.

With Real Madrid he would go on to win 4 La Liga titles, 3 Super Cups and 3 Champions League trophies. And he became one of the legends of the game when he helped Brazil claim the World Cup trophy for a record fifth time in 2002.

He became world-renowned for his free-kick taking abilities, for which he was called El Hombre Bala. He routinely unleashed free-kicks measuring 105 miles-an-hour with his left-foot.

In 2015, he decided to join Delhi Dynamos as their player-manager. Unfortunately, his playing days were way behind him and we only got to see him play 3 times.

He did lead the team to semi-finals for the first time that season but lost the 2 leg fixture to Zico's FC Goa. After one season, he decided his time at ISL was up and he left the club after his contract expired.

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Edited by Rohit Nath


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