5 Real Madrid players who became successful managers

Zidane (L) is one of the most successful player-turned managers.
Zidane (L) is one of the most successful player-turned managers.
Apoorv Rastogi

Real Madrid recently appointed Carlo Ancelotti as their manager to replace the outgoing Zinedine Zidane. Even though the latter's second spell at the Santiago Bernabeu turned out to be much less fruitful than his 2016-2018 reign, Zizou's legacy at his former club remains unparalleled.

Zidane's immeasurable success at Real Madrid brings an interesting topic into the limelight: former greats of the game who went on to have stellar managerial careers.

The revolutionary Pep Guardiola is perhaps the most well-known example of this phenomenon and deservedly so. The Catalan, in his four years as Barcelona manager, assembled one of the best squads in the history of the sport.

The precedent set by the likes of Jose Mourinho, that you can either be a decent enough player or a prosperous manager, has been comfortably put to rest.

The biggest conglomerates attract the best talents in the field. Los Blancos have had the luxury of hiring the who's who of the coaching world, time and time again.

From Champions League-winning coach Fabio Capello to the enigmatic Jose Mourinho, the managerial pedigree at Real Madrid has seldom been anything less than elite.

In Carlo Ancelotti, the Spanish giants have once again recruited a serial winner in their dugout.

Keeping that in mind, let's take a look at five former Madrid players, who went on to have hugely successful careers as managers.

#5 Julen Lopetegui

Lopetegui lost his first El Classico as Real Madrid boss by 5-1
Lopetegui lost his first El Classico as Real Madrid boss by 5-1

Julen Lopetegui, currently at the helm of Sevilla, is one of the few people in football with both Real Madrid and Barcelona on his CV. The former goalkeeper has had impressive managerial spells on the international stage, racking up a stirring win percentage of 84.44 with the Spanish youth teams. However, Lopetegui's club career has left a great deal to be desired.

The Spaniard earned his coaching badges under Juan Santisteban's stewardship, with the Spain team at the 2003 UEFA European Under-17 Championship, working as an assistant. Following a disastrous spell with Porto, Lopetegui was hired by the Spanish FA as first-team boss.

Given the Herculean task of restoring his country's legacy after the 2014 World Cup humiliation, Lopetegui headed into the 2018 edition with a fairly decent squad. However, the 54-year-old manager agreed to join Real Madrid after the 2018 World Cup even before the tournament had commenced.

Understandably furious, La Roja officials terminated Lopetegui's contract early and ended his dream of guiding his country to the summit of world football. In an unfortunate turn of events, Lopetegui was also sacked by the Real Madrid hierarchy just two months after his appointment.

Lopetegui has since gone on to redeem his image with Sevilla, winning the Europa League in 2020. He also spearheaded the Andalusian side's first substantial title charge in years.

#4 Bernd Schuster

Bernd Schuster with former Madrid president, Ramón Calderón.
Bernd Schuster with former Madrid president, Ramón Calderón.

For a footballer to have had lengthy and successive stints at Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid, Bernd Schuster has done considerably well in escaping scrutiny from fans of all three teams.

A goal-scoring midfielder in his playing days, Schuster stepped into management with semi-professional minnows SC Fortuna Köln back in Germany.

Following an impressive spell at the Segunda side, Xerez CD, and two underwhelming seasons with Shakhtar Donetsk and Levante, Schuster was appointed Getafe boss in the summer of 2005. It was at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez that Schuster's managerial prowess was thrust into the spotlight.

Under him, the Azulones went on to enjoy two of the most successful campaigns in the club's history, finishing seventh in the league and reaching the final of the Copa del Rey. Schuster was subsequently handed the Real Madrid job.

Back at his old club, Schuster instantly employed a more attacking approach. This was in sharp contrast to the style his predecessor Fabio Capello brought to the club. The intrepid manager won the Spanish Supercopa and the La Liga title in his solitary season in charge of the club.

Since departing Spain, Schuster has experienced somewhat of a turbulent time in his career. He is currently unemployed, having last coached Dalian Yifang in the Chinese Super League in 2019.

#3 Rafael Benitez

Benitez guided Newcastle to instant promotion in 2017
Benitez guided Newcastle to instant promotion in 2017

An unexpected entry on this list, Rafa Benitez's stint as a Real Madrid player is hardly ever spoken about whilst talking about the manager. Nevertheless, during his insanely short playing career, Benitez was indeed contracted to Real Madrid's B and C teams, technically making him a Los Blancos employee.

A hoard of injuries forced the former defender to retire from the game at the early age of just 26. However, Benitez's passion for the game enabled him to pick himself up and re-join the Spanish club as a part of the managerial staff.

After numerous spells with multiple Spanish minnows, Benitez's big break finally occurred when Valencia came knocking in 2001.

The influential manager has not looked back ever since. Aside from a few underwhelming seasons with the likes of Chelsea and his parent club, Real Madrid, Benitez has mostly enjoyed top-tier football management.

From the fabled Istanbul comeback with Liverpool to winning unlikely league titles with Valencia, Benitez has established his legacy as one of the best managers in the modern era.

#2 Vicente del Bosque

Vicente del Bosque presenting the World Cup trophy.
Vicente del Bosque presenting the World Cup trophy.

Vicente del Bosque has been a Real Madrid stalwart, through and through. Initially as a player, and subsequently as a manager, Del Bosque always gave his everything to his boyhood club.

After winning five league titles and four Copa del Rey titles with Los Blancos, the legendary Spaniard returned to the Santiago Bernabeu in 1987, this time as the B team manager.

After two separate spells as caretaker boss, Del Bosque finally landed a permanent job in Madrid's dugout in 1999 after John Toshack's disappointing tenure.

Real Madrid, under Del Bosque, became a force to be reckoned with. He guided them to five pieces of silverware, including two European cups, in his four years at the helm.

He is best-known for his time with the Spanish national team. Palillo was instrumental in Spain's era of dominance between the years 2008-2012, which saw La Roja win two European Championships and a World Cup in 2010.

To date, Del Bosque is the only manager in the history of the sport to have won the Champions League, the Euros, and the World Cup, as well as the Intercontinental Cup. Having won every possible title under the sun, Del Bosque announced his retirement from coaching in 2016 at the age of 65.

#1 Zinedine Zidane

Real Madrid became the first team to defend a UCL title under Zidane.
Real Madrid became the first team to defend a UCL title under Zidane.

Who else could it be? Zinedine Zidane's appointment in 2016 truly changed the course of history in modern football. A legendary player who won Real Madrid their ninth UCL title with a sumptuous volley against Bayern Leverkusen, Zidane came back in style to lead Los Blancos to European glory once again.

Having coached Real Madrid's B team, Castilla, for two years, Zidane was handed a promotion following the aforementioned Rafa Benitez's abysmal showing in the Spanish capital.

In his first-ever job as a manager, the mercurial Frenchman defied all odds to lead his team to three consecutive Champions League wins, breaking countless records along the way.

After failing miserably to replace their talismanic coach, Real Madrid were forced to re-hire Zidane in 2019 to steady their ship. Despite his second stint not living up to his ridiculously high standards, the 49-year-old recently departed the club with a combined 11 titles, becoming their second-most successful manager ever.

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Edited by Ritwik Kumar


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