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Football is a game of skills, goals, thrills, suspense, tactics, and so much more. Not too many great players have had the chance to enjoy the same success as managers. 

It takes hard work, patience, and excellent coaching ability to amass success in the coaching world. Zidane and other top players can attest to the fact that managing clubs is not an easy feat. 

Zidane as a Player

Meanwhile, that doesn’t mean there are not still exceptional players who have made it as managers. In this article, we take a look at those top players who became great coaches. 


Johan Cruyff tops our list of the most successful footballers who later became great coaches. During his playing career as a midfielder, Cruyff bagged three Ballon d’Ors (1971, 1973, and 1974) and was also exceptional on the international stage. 

Even though he failed to win the prestigious World Cup with the Netherlands, he led his country to second place at the 1974 World Cup tournament. 

Johan Cruyff

After he hung his boots, he managed Ajax and Barcelona, the two clubs he had played for during his playing days. As a player, Johan Cruyff managed to win 3 European Cups, 9 Eredivisie titles, 1 La Liga title, 1 UEFA Super Cup, and many other titles. 

While as a manager, he managed to replicate winning the European cup on two occasions, bagged 4 La Liga titles managing Barcelona, won 5 domestic cups, 1 UEFA Super Cup, and 2 Cup Winners Cup. 

Late Johan Cruyff will forever be remembered for the immense contribution he made to the footballing world. 


Carlo Ancelotti is an Italian born player who started his playing career in the Italian league. He featured for his country on 26 occasions, notably at the 1986 and 1990 World Cups. 

While at Ac Milan, Carlo Ancelotti won the European Cup two times and still lifted 3 Serie A titles. He is regarded as a successful coach because he has won several top titles, including: 

  • 3 Champions League titles
  • 1 Serie A title
  • 1 Premier League title with Chelsea
  • 1 Bundesliga title with Bayern Munich
  • 1 Ligue 1 title
  • 2 FIFA Club World Cup Titles and so on. 

So far, his managerial career shows he has managed top clubs in Italy, France, Spain, Germany, and England. Ancelotti is among the list of three managers to have lifted the UEFA Champions League three times. 

Ancelotti was a top midfielder during his playing days and no wonder why exceptional midfielders emerged under his watch as manager. 

After managing Reggiana, Parma, Juventus, Milan, Chelsea, PSG, Real Madrid, and others, he currently manages the Everton football club in England. 


Before his rise to the limelight, Zidane was considered a managerial failure with the Real Madrid Castilla (The Madrid B team). Meanwhile, that is bygone because he has since gone on to win 3 Champions League titles with Real Madrid’s first team. 

Real Madrid is the first major team he has managed since after retiring. Zidane also has 1 La Liga title to his name, establishing himself as an icon to admire in the coaching world. 

Zidane as Coach

Zidane was an exceptional player for Real Madrid and Juventus. Hence, he was crowned Ballon d’Or winner. He is among those who controlled the game with his fantastic eye for pass and skills. 

In addition to the European Championships he won, he also led France to the World Cup title in 1998.  Zinedine Zidane is currently the manager of Real Madrid, as he seeks to add more titles to his long trophy cabinet. 


Kenny Dalglish is regarded as a Liverpool legend because of his immense success with the Merseyside club. The English-born attacker bagged ten first division titles (also called Premier League) with Liverpool (9) and Blackburn (1), respectively. 

His incredible goal scoring record propelled Liverpool to three European Cups. Anfield and Liverpool lovers can attest to the fact that he was a top player and manager. 

Kenny Dalglish

Asides from managing Liverpool, his greatest ever feat recorded as a manager came with winning the Premier League title with Blackburn. Dalglish’s playing career titles include: 

  • 17 Domestic cups 
  • 3 European cups 
  • 6 English first division (Now Premier League)
  • 1 UEFA cup 

On the other hand, his managerial career brought about the following titles: 

  • 9 Domestic cups
  • 4 English first division (Now Premier League)

Jupp Heynckes is the third-highest goalscorer in Borussia Monchengladbach’s history. In 1974, the German-born player won the World Cup with West Germany. 

In addition to winning the World Cup, Heynckes also won the European Championship, 4 Bundesliga titles, 1 domestic cup, and 1 UEFA cup. 

Jupp Heynckes

Since retiring, Jupp Heynckes has gone on to manage 9 different clubs. He has also won 3 Bundesliga titles, 2 Champions League titles, and 5 domestic cups. 

His most notable success as a manager came in his second spell as Bayern Munich coach in 2013, where he led the team to Champions League glory. He has since retired from coaching, but his legacy will continue to remain for young and aspiring coaches to learn from. 


Spanish maestro Pep Guardiola has enjoyed high success both as a player and manager. He has bagged more than 25 trophies while managing a host of clubs, including Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Manchester City. 

Pep’s footballing genius has inspired Barcelona and Bayern Munich to become entirely dominant in Spain and Germany. He was even praised for introducing the term “Tiki-Taka” to Barcelona’s tactics, meaning eye-catching passing. 

While he started without a title in his first season at Manchester City, Ped Guardiola has incredibly understood the English game, thereby winning two Premier League titles and a host of domestic titles. 

Other managerial success includes winning Champions League titles with Barcelona, 3 Bundesliga titles, 3 La Liga titles, 3 FIFA Club World Cup, and other top honors. 

For his playing career, Pep was able to amass 1 European cup, 5 domestic cups, 6 La Liga titles, 1 UEFA Super Cup, etc. 


The list of world-class players who later became successful coaches is endless. While some of the listed players and coaches are still in the footballing business, it is only a matter of time before other outstanding players become coaches. 

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