Trying to comprehend just how many people once dreamed of becoming a professional footballer boggles the mind. An unprecedented amount of kids will have had their dreams crushed and become like most – signing up to years and years of clocking in and out of a 9-5 job five days a week.
Some make it into football, fewer make it to the highest standard and even fewer achieve what could be deemed greatness. But then, there are a select few, a handful of people scattered all over the globe, that carry this greatness with them into management. These guys are at the pinnacle of the game.
The pioneers of football that have helped sculpt the very thing they grew up dreaming to be a part of. It’s a mind blowing achievement, with the odds stacked inexplicably against them. But they did it.
Here’s seven men that achieved that very goal…
Playing career: 1 World Cup, 1 European Championship, 1 UEFA Cup, 4 Bundesliga Titles, 1 Domestic Cup
Managerial career: 2 Champions Leagues, 4 Bundesliga Titles, 5 x domestic cups, 2 x Intertoto Cup
Jupp Heynckes retired from football in 2013 after guiding his Bayern Munich side to a Champions League triumph – no biggie. It wasn’t until September last year when he thought ‘why not go back in and pick up another Bundesliga title?’ – the man oozes brilliance in every sense of the word.
Looking at what he achieved in his playing days, you wouldn’t be able to even think that someone’s own managerial career could overshadow that, but it has done; and that in itself is a testament to the German mastermind.
Playing career: 1 World Cup, 1 European Championship, 3 European Cups, 1 Cup Winners’ Cup, 5 Bundesliga Titles, 3 North American Soccer League Titles, 4 Domestic Cups, 1 Intercontinental Cup, 2 Trans-Atlantic Cups
Managerial career: 1 World Cup, 1 UEFA Cup, 1 Ligue 1, 1 Bundesliga
Franz Beckenbauer, quite frankly, had to make this list – purely for the fact that he’s one of only two people to win a World Cup as a player, and then again as a manager. Nicknamed Der Kaiser early on in his career for his dominance on the pitch, the midfielder turned centre half is often credited for creating the sweeper position at the heart of defence. He made his own position, he was that good.
It could almost be considered a crime that Beckenbauer only ever managed three teams, before quitting in 1996; but once you’ve won a couple of World Cups, what can eclipse it? Beckenbauer completed football.
Luis Alberto Cubilla
Playing Career: 9 Uruguayan Primera Division Titles, 3 Copa Libertadores’, 1 Copa Interamericana, 1 Domestic Cups, 2 Intercontinental Cups
Managerial Career: 8 Paraguayan Primera Division Titles, 1 Uruguayan Primera Division, 2 Copa Libertadores’, 1 Copa Interamericana, 1 Supercopa Libertadores, 2 Recopa Sudamericana, 1 Intercontinental Cup
Here we pay homage to one of South America’s finest ever products of football – quite a claim considering the esteemed company that would find him in. Luis Cubilla never ventured into Europe during his career, but why would you when you’re racking up nine league titles as a player, followed by another nine as a manager?
He’s won it all (in Uruguay and Paraguay) and with 24 honours under his belt, there aren’t many people who have displayed such dominance over such a sustained period of time. One of the more under the radar greats. Just because it’s not in Europe, it doesn’t mean it’s any easier.
Playing Career: 2 European Cups, 2 UEFA Super Cups, 3 Serie A Titles, 5 Domestic Cups, 2 Intercontinental Cups
Managerial Career: 3 Champions Leagues, 3 UEFA Super Cups 1 Serie A Title, 1 Premier League Title, 1 Bundesliga Title, 1 Ligue 1 Title, 6 Domestic Cups, 2 FIFA Club World Cups, 1 Intertoto Cup
As a player, Carlo Ancelotti never left his homeland Italy, yet he was still part of some of the greatest teams on the continent during the 70s and 80s. Never one of the stand out players (he only ever managed 26 international caps), Ancelotti wasn’t the Ballon d’Or winning type, but was he a key part of the two successive European Cup triumphs in the late 80s? You bet.
Ever since then, Ancelotti has won – whatever it’s taken, he’s managed to get it done. As a result, the Italian holds titles from England, France, Germany, Spain and Italy – not to mention continental domination in the Champions League.
Playing career: 1 European Cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 1 Cup Winners’ Cup, 6 La Liga Titles, 5 Domestic Cups, Olympic Games – Gold Medal (1992)
Managerial career: 2 Champions Leagues, 3 UEFA Super Cups, 3 La Liga Titles, 3 Bundesliga Titles, 1 Premier League Title, 8 Domestic Cups, 3 FIFA Club World Cups
Pep Guardiola needs little explanation. Somehow, despite an incredible playing career as part of Johan Cruyff’s golden generation of Barcelona players, in only a decade of first team management, the Spaniard has completely blown his playing career away in terms of success. Bar his debut campaign with Manchester City, Guardiola has won a league title in every single season he has managed.
Pep took what Johan Cruyff had developed and turned it on its head in his own unique way of reshaping the game – and no one can catch up to him. An incredible footballer during his time, Pep has gone on to become one of the best managers of this generation – and he’s only 47.
Playing career: 2 World Cups, 7 Brazilian State Championships
Managerial career: 1 World Cup, 1 Confederations Cup, 1 Copa America
Remember earlier when Franz Beckenbauer made the list because of his separate World Cups as player and then manager? He’s just been trumped by Mario Zagallo. Having won two World Cup titles as a player in Brazil’s 1958 and 1962 competition winning teams, Zagallo went on to lift it again in 1970 in charge of Brazil before helping lift the 1994 trophy as assistant manager.
Of the nation’s five World Cup victories, Zagallo was involved in four of them. An undeniable legend that is almost unheard of nowadays.
Playing Career: 3 European Cups, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 9 Eredivisie Titles, 1 La Liga Title, 7 Domestic Cups, 2 Intertoto Cups, 1 Intercontinental Cup
Managerial Career: 2 European Cups, 2 Cup Winners’ Cups, 4 La Liga Titles, 5 x Domestic Cups, 1 x UEFA Super Cup
You all knew who would be coming in at number one. The late Johan Cruyff had an unparalleled impact on game as both a player and a manager. Inventor of the Cruyff turn, the attacking midfielder won the Ballon d’Or on three occasions as he helped Ajax to three successive European Cup triumphs.
As a player, it was Cruyff that is seen as the leading name in developing ‘Total Football’ – a philosophy based on replacing players that move out of position on the pitch in order to keep the structure of the team. He did this as a player – he was that groundbreaking and influential.
As a manager he was years ahead of his time and influenced anyone he came across with his attack based philosophy – channeling his philosophy through the youth setups at both Ajax and Barcelona. This left an indelible mark on both teams, they’re now both a symbol of innovation in youth development today.
HAVE YOU GOT WHAT IT TAKES?
You don’t have to be a professional footballer to put in the work and nail your goals. You just have to be committed, stay focussed and put your all into it. If this sounds like you, check out NCS, a summer experience aimed at 15-17 year olds who are willing to put in the time and get the results they want. Fancy tackling outdoor activities, learning new skills and changing the world around you? Then NCS is for you.
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