A lot of players have distinguished themselves over the years, however not many after, enjoying illustrious careers have gone on to enjoy equally as successful coaching careers. Today we pay tribute to this special breed of achievers, who have not only done it on the pitch, but have gone on to make a name for themselves as great managers. Here are 7 best players who became managers.
1. Zinedine Zidane
The French World Cup winner and legend is one of the most decorated and talented players ever to play the beautiful game. His achievements for both club and country are almost too numerous to name. Multiple leagues and cup winner in Spain and Italy, UEFA Champions League winner, and Ballon d’Or award recipient there isn’t anything Zidane didn’t win as a player. As a manager, the great former French has continued to be just as prolific. 3 UEFA Champions League titles back-to-back and 2 La Liga successes with Real Madrid have cemented his legacy already as one of the best coaches in the game. Despite a less than stellar season with former side Real Madrid Zidane is still highly respected in the game and it won’t be too long before he’s linked with another high-profile coaching job.
2. Stephen Keshi
The late Nigerian national team coach and former player was one of the greatest players the West African continent has ever produced. Keshi started out in Nigeria playing for numerous local sides before moving overseas, where he enjoyed spells with top European sides SC Anderlecht and RC Strasbourg. It was with the Nigerian national team that Keshi made his name, captaining the Super Eagles for over 10 years. Which culminated in a first-ever World Cup qualification and second African Cup of Nations title in 1993 and 1994 respectively. As a manager, Stephen excelled in coaching national teams. In 2005, he qualified an unfancied Togo for their first and so far only ever World Cup. His greatest triumph was still to come in 2013 when he coached his country Nigeria to their 3rd AFCON title. Later in the same year, he qualified the Super Eagles for their 5th World Cup leading them to the second round.
3. Didier Deschamps
The France national team coach had a very successful career playing for various club sides like Olympique Marseille, Juventus, and Chelsea. As a coach, Didier has also enjoyed success first with Marseille and, more significantly, the French national leading them to their 2 World Cup triumph at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
4. Pep Guardiola
Even though Pep is more renowned for his achievements as a coach, he also had a very good playing career. Guardiola won 6 La Liga titles, a Copa Del Rey trophy, and a few European titles, during his time with Catalan giants FC Barcelona. Pep played over 380 times for Barca and was a stalwart in defensive midfield for them.
5. Franz Beckenbauer
The German legend had an illustrious club and national team career. At Bayern Munich, Franz won numerous Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League titles. While with the German national team, he captained them to a European Championship and FIFA World Cup triumph in 1972 and 1974 respectively. Beckenbauer was just as successful as a coach, winning league titles with Bayern and Marseille. Most famously, he coached the Germans to their 3rd World Cup trophy in 1990.
6. Johan Cruyff
You can’t name a list of the best players who became managers without mentioning the football genius, Johan Cruyff. As a footballer, Cruyff won the Ballon d’Or three times, in 1971, 1973, and 1974. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players to play the beautiful game. After retiring from football, Johan Cruyff became the manager of Ajax where he won numerous titles. He also went on to coach Barcelona, where he made his name as one of the most successful managers in Europe.
7. Mario Zagallo
Mario Zagallo is the first person to win the World Cup as both a player and manager. He also holds the record for most World Cup titles in general with four titles in total. Zagallo won the World Cup in 1958 and 1962 as a player, in 1970 as manager, and in 1994 as assistant manager.