The Champions League is the most coveted tournament in European club football. Every season, the biggest clubs in Europe participate in it to determine the best team in the continent. The competition came into existence in 1992 when the European Cup was rebranded as the Champions League.
The Champions League has delivered many memorable moments in its history. From the night in Istanbul to the one in Munich, the competition is filled with magical stories of dreams coming true. The players get all the glory; however, the managers are just as important. The competition is an opportunity for managers to leave a lasting mark.
The Champions League has seen some of the greatest managers of all-time attempt to win the prestigious trophy. Some have won it more than once, but the Champions League has eluded a few others. Arsenal's long-standing manager Arsene Wenger could never win the competition during his two decades at the London club.
On that note, let us look at the five greatest managers in the history of the Champions League.
Five greatest managers in Champions League history:
#5. Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson is one of the greatest managers in the history of this game, not just the Champions League. He had a remarkable 26-year reign at Manchester United in which he established the club among the most successful clubs in Europe. He won 13 Premier League titles and many other domestic trophies.
The Scot enjoyed success in the Champions League too. He won the competition twice, first in the treble-winning season of 1999 and then in 2008. He also holds the record of most games as a manager in the Champions League's history.
The best part of Ferguson's Champions League legacy is how consistent he was in the tournament over a long period. He would have won more Champions League titles, but he was unfortunate to face a brilliant Barcelona team in the 2009 and 2011 finals. Nevertheless, Sir Alex Ferguson will always be remembered as one of the greatest managers in the competition's history.
#4. Carlo Ancelotti
Carlo Ancelotti is one of two managers in this list who have experienced the best moments of their managerial career in the Champions League. Ancelotti has been more successful in the Champions League than other domestic competitions. His AC Milan team in the mid-2000s is one of the greatest the competition has ever seen.
The Italian won the Champions League twice with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007; however, his most famous Champions League title came in 2014 when he helped Real Madrid win "La Decima".
Ancelotti should have had four Champions League titles, but a hugely disappointing result will always haunt him. His Milan team were the favourites in the 2005 final against Liverpool and led by three goals at half-time only to lose in a penalty shootout as the English club scripted one of the biggest turnarounds in Champions League history.
#3. Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho is placed above Carlo Ancelotti in this list even though he has won fewer Champions League titles than the Italian. The reason for that is simply because of the circumstances in which Mourinho won his titles.
The Special One has won two Champions League titles. His first title in the competition came in 2004 when his Porto side shook up the world by winning the Champions League. Mourinho then moved to Chelsea and turned them into European heavyweights. He did not win the Champions League with the Blues; however, he put in place the core of players that would win the title for Chelsea in 2012.
Mourinho won his second Champions League title in 2010 when he guided Inter Milan to glory. On both occasions, his teams were the underdogs. In 2004, his Porto side was not fancied to go all the way in the Champions League.
In 2010, his Inter Milan side pulled off one of the greatest upsets by defeating Pep Guardiola's Barcelona in the semi-finals. Mourinho also helped Real Madrid break their Round-of-16 jinx and guide them to a hat-trick of semi-finals.
The Portuguese tactician did not win the Champions League title with Madrid, yet his stamp on Madrid's La Decima-winning squad in 2014 was very much visible.
#2. Pep Guardiola
The managers in this list have all won more or as many Champions League titles as Pep Guardiola has. However, none of them managed to win the competition the way Guardiola did. His Barcelona side is considered to be one of the greatest teams to have won the competition; his team's playing style has since been copied by many other teams to varying degrees of success.
The Spaniard won his first Champions League title in 2009, his first year in senior management when his Barcelona side mesmerised the world and redefined the beautiful game. Guardiola would win the competition again in 2011, that saw an even better version of his side.
He should have won more Champions League titles, but his dominant side was stopped by Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan in 2010 and by Chelsea two years later at the same stage of the competition.
Guardiola has not reached the Champions final since 2011 even though he has been a regular in the semi-finals with both Bayern Munich and Manchester City. But there is no denying that Guardiola changed the Champions League for the better, and, that is why he is second in this list.
#1. Zinedine Zidane
The Champions League has seen many great managers in its history, but none of them have achieved what Zinedine Zidane did. Zidane's Real Madrid won the Champions League in three consecutive seasons. No other side has successfully defended their title in the Champions League era. Not surprisingly, Zidane is also the first manager to win the competition three times in a row.
The Frenchman was a great player but has also proved to be a revelation as a manager. Taking charge of Real Madrid midway through his first season, he inspired the Merengues to a hat-trick of titles in two and a half years.
Zidane has a long managerial career ahead of him. His legacy in the Champions League can only get better, which makes him the undisputed number one manager in the history of the competition.