Top 5 Players Who Transitioned To Manager

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By Football Tripper
Last Updated: January 17, 2022


Some of the world’s greatest players have gone on to enjoy extremely successful managerial careers. These are the top five individuals that have excelled as players and managers:

Pep Guardiola

Guardiola was the star of the show for Johan Cryuff’s “Dream Team” at Barcelona. He bossed the midfield while playing alongside the likes of Ronald Koeman, Michael Laudrup, Romário and HristoStoichkov, and went on to enjoy a trophy-laden decade with the Blaugrana.
He served as the club captain for several years, and won seven La Liga titles, the European Cup, the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, and the Copa del Rey before moving to Italy to play for Roma and Brescia.

Guardiola made a very smooth transition into management. He spent one season managing Barcelona’s B team before replacing Frank Rijkaard as Barca boss in 2008. He made a number of drastic decisions at the start of his reign, swiftly offloading star player Ronaldinho, along with Deco, HianlucaZambrotta, Giovani dos Santos, Edmílson, Lilian Thuram and several fringe players.

Guardiola rebuilt the team around Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, and of course, the mercurial Lionel Messi, and the effects were magnificent. Barca were unstoppable during Guardiola’s time as manager, as he won three La Liga titles, two Champions Leagues, and two Copa del Rey titles, while dazzling the world with his tiki taka style.

Guardiola then won three consecutive Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich before moving to the Premier League, where he has led Man City to the title three times. They are currently top of the table once again, and they are the favourites in the fixed odds betting to lift the trophy at the end of the season. He has a very distinct style – playing out from the back, pressing high up the pitch, creating numerical overloads in the build-up – which has had a huge impact upon the modern game.

Zinedine Zidane

Zidane was the world’s best footballer for several years. He moved from Juventus to Real Madrid for a world record fee in 2001, becoming the standout player in a team packed full of Galacticos. During his illustrious playing career, Zidane won the World Cup, Euro 2000, La Liga, the Champions League, and two Serie A titles with Juventus, and he was named in the World Soccer Greatest XI of All Time.

The Frenchman was appointed as a special adviser to Real Madrid’s first team in 2010, and he spent a year as Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant in 2013-14. He took charge of Real Madrid’s B team, Castilla, in 2014. In January 2016, Real Madrid sacked Rafa Benitez as manager and handed Zidane the top job.
Just four months later, he led them to Champions League glory.

Under Zidane’s tutelage, Real Madrid won three consecutive Champions League titles between 2016 and 2018 – becoming the first club to do so. He left in the summer of 2018 after Los Blancos decided to sell Cristiano Ronaldo, but he later returned for a second stint and won his second La Liga title as Real Madrid manager. Zidane left once again in the summer, and he is currently one of the most coveted coaches in world fotball.

Johan Cruyff

Cruff is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. He came second behind Pelé in a World Player of the Century poll, and he also featured in that Greatest XI of AllTime team.

He won the European Cup three times and led Ajax to eight Eredivisie titles before moving to Barcelona, where he won La Liga and the Copa del Rey. He also returned to the Netherlands to win the double with Feyenoord in the twilight of his career. He even invented the “Cruyff turn”, which is widely used to this day.

Yet Cruyff’s greatest legacy is as a manager. He has been dubbed “the inventor of modern football” thanks to the “total football” that he pioneered during his time as Ajax and Barcelona boss. The youth academies at Barca and Ajax were built on his methods, and they remain the world’s most successful breeding grounds for young talent. He won four La Liga titles and the European Cup as Barca manager.

Carlo Ancelotti

Ancelotti was a key component of the all-conquering AC Milan team of the late 1980s and early 1990s. He won two Serie A titles and two European Cups with the Rossoneri, along with one league title and four Coppa Italia titles earlier in his career with Juventus.

Yet he has enjoyed even more success as a manager. Ancelotti has won three Champions League titles – two with AC Milan and one at the helm of Real Madrid – along with domestic league titles at Milan, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and PSG. He has also enjoyed stints at Juventus and Everton, and he is currently back at Real Madrid, where his Los Blancos team are well clear of their rivals at the top of the table.

Kenny Dalglish

Liverpool’s greatest ever player became the club’s player-manager in 1985 after Joe Fagan resigned. He led Liverpool to their first ever league-and-cup double during his first season in charge, and he also scored the winner in a 1-0 victory over Chelsea to secure the title on the final day of the season.
He clinched three league titles and two FA Cups before resigning from the role in 1991.

Dalglish returned to management when he took the reins at Blackburn Rovers. He led them to promotion to the top flight, and he won the Premier League title with a team led by Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton in 1995. He had a brief spell as Celtic manager, and he also took charge of Liverpool again in 2011-12, leading the Reds to the EFL Cup.

Football Tripper Logo

By Football Tripper
Last Updated: January 17, 2022