Top 5 Player turned Coaches of the 21st century
Football coaching is one of the toughest jobs in the sport. When a team wins, the coaches are hailed. When a team performs poorly the coaches are sacked. They are the ones who need to think about the tactics before every match and make the hard decisions when it comes to who starts the matches. They are also the ones who will have to keep their squad happy and contented no matter the playing time each player gets.
All this can take a toll on a coach. Coaches are tacticians and true masters in reading not only their squad's strengths and weaknesses but also of their opponents. You would think that a person who has played football professionally would be ideal for this job. But that is not the case mostly.
Great managers like Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have mediocre success during their playing career. It was through management that they achieved their fame. On the other hand, some great players have not been successful in management. Diego Maradona has not found many triumphs as a coach and arguably the greatest player ever, Pele, has not even tried to get into management.
But there are some from this rare breed who have made it big. They were influential during their playing careers and have continued that trend when they took on the role of the manager. Here are 5 of the best player-coaches of this century:
#5 Diego Simeone
Simeone was a midfielder who played for Argentina and several clubs including Athletico Madrid, Inter Milan, and Lazio. He had over 100 caps for the Albiceleste and over 500 club appearances.
Simone started his playing career in Argentina before moving to Serie A with Pisa. Though his time with Pisa was a failure as they were relegated, he was sold to Seville afterward. Simeone did enough to attract the attention of fellow La Liga team Athletico Madrid, with whom he tasted success as they went on to lift the La Liga title and Copa del Rey double.
The high of Simeone's career though was in Serie A. He returned to Italy with Inter Milan where he won the UEFA Cup in 1998. He then moved to rivals Lazio where he won another domestic double and establish himself as one of Lazio's best players. After spending a few more years in Rome he moved back to Racing Cub in Argentina.
Simeone's coaching career began where his playing career ended. But like his former trade, his coaching beginnings were quite nomadic. He moved from one club to another, sometimes in the same year. All that changed when he went to Athletico Madrid in 2011.
Under Simeone, Athletico has become one of the powerhouses of La Liga. Simeone has helped break the duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid over La Liga with Athletico. He won the UEFA Cup in the first year of his management. He then masterminded the Rojiblancos to their first La Liga title since 1996, which was when Simeone himself won the title as a player. He also led them to the UEFA Champions League final, where they lost to their city rivals Real Madrid.
Simeone was known as a hard-working midfielder, and he has drilled that ideology into his players at the Wanda Metropolitano. His team is known for being notoriously hard to break down and to hit the opposition with quick counter-attacks, which was the hallmark of their game as they won the La Liga and reached the Champions League finals twice. Simeone still continues as the head coach in Athletico, but it won't be too long before the other big clubs come for his services.