Top footballers who became successful coaches

As all of us can imagine, the life of a top football player is incredibly dynamic and exciting. Non-stop matches with the best teams and players in the world, derbies, individual and team awards and cups, the loudest stadiums in the world and extreme emotions that often reach the zenith. In addition, many players, after being part of one team for many years, create a tight bond with a their club and are very loyal to them. No wonder that after the retirement they feel a strange emptiness and lack of competitive emotions. Ex-football players miss high-level adrenaline, die-hard supporters and above all – their beloved team.

In recent years, the pattern of top footballers becoming top coaches has been intensifying greatly. They continue to participate in events on the pitch, but this time as masterminds standing at the sideline and prompting their players. In fact, it’s completely different from taking an active part in the battles on the pitch, but still very exciting and very responsible. Being a coach is a real strategy game. Big football teams often recruit former football stars to restore their team’s former glory or bring it back on the right path. Club owners are increasingly hiring former world-class players because they know they have first-hand experience and passion. And some of those top coaches leave their mark on the pitch, that’s why is it worth it to see them during a live game.


Spanish coach and world-class footballer who played as a midfielder. World Champion in 2010 and two-time European Champion in 2008 and 2012. In the years 1998-2015 a player of FC Barcelona with whom he triumphed in the Champions League four times in the seasons 2005/06, 2008/09, 2010/11 and 2014/15, and in the years 2015-2019 of the Qatari club Al Sadd, whose coach he became after the end of his football career. He is currently the head coach of FC Barcelona. The legend of the club made his debut as a coach in the derby duel with Espanyol. It wasn’t an outstanding game for Barcelona, but the 1-0 victory instilled optimism in the hearts of fans ahead of the decisive match in the Champions League group stage, which would determine whether Barca would progress from the group. The Catalan pride drew 0-0 with Benfica at home and lost 0-3 with Bayern and Xavi and the team had to play in the Europa League in the spring. But that was the first step. The Barcelona project with Xavi at the helm was to shine in the 2022/23 season. The president of the club did everything to prepare the Spaniard a team that would fight for the highest goals. Bringing, above all, Robert Lewandowski was an event that poured hope into the hearts of the fans. In addition, transfers of such players as: Raphinha or Jules Koundé would make it possible to count on good results.

As a coach, Xavi is a student of Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola, so keeping the ball is at the core of his philosophy. If his players are well positioned on the pitch, then the game looks smooth, that’s why mobility and finding space is important. You should definitely go watch FC Barcelona if you want to see creative positional play.  Xavi wants the player on the ball to always have a free partner available to play the ball to. Possession of the ball is sacred to Xavi and the best system for that is 4-3-3. The Spaniard grew up in La Masia where this arrangement was used a lot. Another fundamental point is pressing. After losing the ball, the team is to immediately jump to the rival in order to pick up the ball.

Xavi has become an excellent coach, very good tactically, who is very active on the sideline throughout the match to support his players. His Barcelona plays great, eye-pleasing football, they win important matches such as 3-1 against Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup Final and often score a lot of goals mainly thanks to the phenomenal Robert Lewandowski.

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Mikel Arteta

The manager of Premier League team Arsenal is Spanish professional footballer and former player Mikel Arteta. Arteta, then 29 years old, joined Arsenal in 2011. He won two FA Cups there and captained the team from 2014 until his retirement in 2016. He was at that time one of the pillars of that Arsenal squad.

As a coach, Arteta is constantly evolving and learning. His in-game tactical adjustments can be amazing or devastating. He has no trouble dominating Manchester City at home, but he sometimes struggles to triumph against the underdogs. Though not every choice he takes is ideal, every encounter offers him the chance to grow.  It will take time to overcome years of mediocrity and a weak mentality. While Arteta has struggled at times throughout his time at Arsenal thus far, he has demonstrated one trait that should be reason enough for him to continue serving as manager for as long as possible: his capacity to develop those around him.

Granit Xhaka might serve as a solid example. One of the most unpredictable and inconsistent players to watch was him. He was sluggish with the ball, sloppy defensively, and prone to errors. He is now the team’s most dependable and solid player thanks to Arteta. Bukayo Saka is again another excellent illustration. Under Emery, Saka was elevated to the first squad, but Arteta has turned him into a vital part of the group. Saka, who is only 21 years old, has developed under Arteta into a rising star for Arsenal and one of the greatest players in the Premier League. He has double digit goals already this season.

Arsenal are big favourites now to win the Premier League, as well as Manchester City. They haven’t had as good results in years as they did when Arteta became their coach. They actually stand a good chance of taking home the Premier League, something you could witness live if you embark yourself in a football trip to London. The last time they did it was twenty years ago, when the legendary coach Arsene Wenger and his Invincible team were in charge in 2003/04 season.

Pep Guardiola

The current manager of Premier League team Manchester City is Spanish professional football manager and former player Pep Guardiola. He owns the records for the most consecutive league games won in La Liga, the Bundesliga, and the Premier League, and is regarded as one of the best managers of all time.

Guardiola was a defensive midfielder who typically operated as a playmaker from a deep position. He played for Barcelona for the entirety of his career, playing in Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team that captured the club’s first European Cup in 1992 as well as four straight Spanish league titles from 1991 to 1994. From 1997 until his retirement from the club in 2001, he served as the team’s captain.

Guardiola temporarily coached Barcelona B after his playing career was over, leading them to a Tercera División championship. In 2008, he became the first-team coach. He became the youngest manager to win the aforementioned European title when leading Barcelona to the triple of La Liga, UEFA Champions League, and Copa del Rey in his debut season. Guardiola received the Catalan Parliament’s highest honor, the Gold Medal, in 2011, after guiding the team to another La Liga and Champions League double. He was also named the FIFA World Coach of the Year in that same year. He finished his four years at Barcelona in 2012 with a club-record 14 awards.

Following a break, Bayern Munich revealed Guardiola would take over as manager of the team in 2013. In each of his three seasons as Bayern’s manager, Guardiola won the Bundesliga, along with two domestic doubles. He moved from the Bavarians to Manchester City in 2016, and in his second season as manager, he led them to the Premier League title while shattering multiple domestic records by being the first side to accumulate 100 league points. He has so far won the FA Cup, four EFL Cups, the Premier League four times, and a domestic treble in the 2018–19 season. In 2021, he also took the team to their first-ever UEFA Champions League Final, where they fell to Chelsea.

Along from his work ethic, analytical and thorough preparations for matches, match tactics, and philosophy of soccer (as well as his impeccable attire), there has been one open secret to his success, and that has been his method of addressing the players mentally.
He understands the value of maintaining harmony in his interpersonal interactions with players and is a tough disciplinarian who is able to maintain control over major players while also projecting the image an approachable mentor that one can look up to. Only a select fraction of the best coaches possess the ability to relieve both personal and player pressure. That’s why a football trip to the Etihad Stadium to see Manchester City is an experience that ‘tiki-taka’ fans will never forget.

Patrick Vieira

The manager of Premier League team Crystal Palace is French professional footballer and former player Patrick Vieira. Vieira made a name for himself as a dominant box-to-box midfielder during his nine-year Premier League career. He is known for his aggressive and fiercely competitive style of play, which helped him succeed as the team’s captain from 2002 until his retirement in 2005. From 1999 to 2004, he was a member of the PFA Team of the Year for the Premier League six times in a row.

Following the resignation of Roy Hodgson as manager of Premier League club Crystal Palace on July 4, 2021, Vieira was named to the position on a three-year contract. He collected points away from his two former Premier League opponents in his rookie campaign, drawing 2-2 with Arsenal and beating Manchester City 2-0. He lost to Chelsea in the 2021–22 FA Cup semi-final round.

All of Vieira’s teams have been renowned to play a methodical, possession-based brand of football under his tutelage. When his team is in a difficult place, he has exhibited a propensity to turn more defensive. During his time at Crystal Palace, the reactive counterattack-based style of play that had been prevalent under Roy Hodgson’s management gave way to a proactive manner. After Vieira came over, Crystal Palace resumed its winning ways, improved its performance, and started to win crucial games. They were previously in danger of being demoted to the Championship, but currently they are performing well and have spent the majority of the season in the middle or higher portion of the table. That’s why is a nice option if you decide to go on a football trip to London and want to visit a different team than the bigger Arsenal, Chelsea or Spurs.

Carlo Ancelotti

The manager of La Liga team Real Madrid is Italian professional footballer and former player Carlo Ancelotti. Ancelotti, who is regarded as one of the best managers of all time, is the most successful manager in the history of the UEFA Champions League after winning the trophy a record four times as coach (twice with AC Milan and twice with Real Madrid). Moreover, he is the first and only person to have led teams to five Champions League championship games. He was one of eight individuals to have won the European Cup or Champions League as both a player and a manager thanks to his two Champions League victories with AC Milan as a player. Moreover, Ancelotti is the first and only manager in history to have captured league titles in each of the top five leagues in Europe. He is the manager with the most UEFA Super Cup victories, having won the trophy four times while coaching Milan and Real Madrid. He has won the FIFA Club World Cup a joint-record three times.

Ancelotti started his career as a midfielder for the Italian team Parma, assisting them in their 1979 promotion to Serie B. He then moved to Roma the following year, where he won four Coppa Italia titles and the Serie A championship. He also played for the Milan squad in the late 1980s, where he won two league championships, two European Cups, and other honors. He featured in two FIFA World Cups, helping Italy finish third in the 1990 competition, and the UEFA Euro 1988, when he helped his country reach the semifinals, while representing Italy on a total of 26 occasions and scoring once.

He is renowned for his quick and successful counterattacking style as well as for exerting significant pressure on the defense of the opposing team. He can also quickly change the player positions and configuration to suit the other squad. Although he has been known to lose his temper occasionally, Ancelotti has also received praise for his generosity, sense of humor, and calm, balanced management style. He has also been praised for his ability to inspire his players and build strong relationships with them.

Many commentators specifically cited his capacity to forge close bonds with his players and his willingness to consult them while making tactical decisions as the team’s success and cohesion. He made the following comment in 2022 about this part of his coaching philosophy: “In my opinion, football training methods have changed significantly over the past 20 years. Since the regulations have changed, I’ve got to be prepared to adapt my playing style and philosophy. It’s an entirely different kind of sport. Yet my interaction with the players has remained the same. That is identical.” Benzema was now given a free attacking role in contrast to his initial stint in the Spanish capital, and he became the center of the team’s offensive line. This new role allowed the striker to be incredibly productive, which was a crucial factor in the team’s success. You can experience the attacking style of Real Madrid in a football trip to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Ancelotti, who is known as Don Carlo in the Spanish media, is hailed as one of the finest and most successful managers of all time and has received accolades for both his tenure and his record-breaking accomplishments.

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