Kenny Dalglish - Liverpool
Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish is arguably one of the most famous and notable former player-managers in football. Dalglish, who earned a reputation as one of the most celebrated players to put on the red shirt - scoring 118 goals in 335 appearances and lifting multiple league titles and European Cups - transitioned to player-manager in 1985 following Joe Fagan’s resignation.
Here, the success continued on a monumental basis, with Dalglish winning three First Division titles, two FA Cup trophies and four FA Charity Shields. He resigned in 1991 but returned to the club as manager in 2011 following the miserable tenure of Roy Hodgson, where he guided Liverpool to a League Cup trophy in 2012.
Johan Cruyff - Ajax & Barcelona
Considered one of the most influential figures in football history, Johan Cruyff’s lingering impact on the game is still felt today. Known for his Total Football philosophy with his Ajax side and his signature “Cruyff Turn”, the Dutchman managed both Ajax and Barcelona, two clubs he played for during his career.
After lifting the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup with Ajax in 1987, Cruyff took on duties as Barcelona head coach, where was responsible for assembling the iconic “Dream Team” that went on to win the club’s first Champions League in 1992. His tactics and football doctrine had lasting effects on both Barcelona and Pep Guardiola.
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Frank Lampard - Chelsea
Frank Lampard was an essential cog in Jose Mourinho's celebrated Chelsea squad, earning plaudits as one of the best midfielders of his generation and winning the silverware to match. Having lifted three Premier League titles, a Champions League and four FA Cups - not to mention becoming Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer with 211 goals in all competitions - he is a Blues legend through and through.
After calling time on his playing career in 2016 at New York City FC, Lampard had a brief stint coaching Derby County before assuming managerial duties with the Blues in 2019. He led Chelsea to a fourth-placed finish in his debut season and successfully qualified for the Champions League.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - Manchester United
A Manchester United legend thanks to his pivotal role during the 1999 Champions League final, scoring the winning last-minute goal against Bayern Munich after coming on as a substitute, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a sacred figure to Red Devils fans.
Solskjaer took over as caretaker manager at Old Trafford in 2018 following the tumultuous reign of former manager Jose Mourinho, winning 14 of his 19 matches in charge to be appointed permanent coach. He led Manchester United to third place in the Premier League in the 2019-20 season, though failed to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages in the following campaign after placing third in the group.
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Pep Guardiola - Barcelona
A born and bred Catalonian, Pep Guardiola is often regarded as one of Barcelona’s greatest-ever managers. After coming through the Barcelona academy and breaking through the youth ranks, he spent most of his playing career with Blaugrana and was part of the Johan Cruyff-led side that won the club’s first Champions League trophy.
Guardiola returned to the club first as Barcelona B manager before assuming first-team duties in 2008, where he guided the Catalan side to the treble – the Liga trophy, Champions League and Copa del Rey – in his first season.
He won an incredible sextuple with the side in 2009, where he managed a team involving the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta that has been cited as one of the best in European history, before he departed in 2012.
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Zinedine Zidane - Real Madrid
A Real Madrid icon in his own right, Zinedine Zidane became the first coach in football history to win three consecutive Champions League titles. The former midfielder is one of just eight players to have won the World Cup, the Champions League and the Ballon d’Or, and has enjoyed just as glittering of a career as Real Madrid head coach as he did as a player.
Zidane had resigned from coaching Real Madrid in 2018 only to return in 2019, which led to winning both a La Liga title and a Spanish Supercup.
Carlo Ancelotti - AC Milan
Carlo Ancelotti was a midfielder for the Rossoneri over five seasons before becoming one of Europe’s finest and most decorated coaches. Prior to coaching positions at some of the biggest names in European football - PSG, Real Madrid, Bayern and Chelsea - Ancelotti managed AC Milan for eight years where he was responsible for overseeing some of the greatest players of their generation like Kaka, Andrea Pirlo, and Clarence Seedorf.
He lifted two Champions League trophies with AC Milan (and managed the team during the historic Istanbul final against Liverpool in 2005).
Mikel Arteta - Arsenal
Mikel Arteta is hardly considered an Arsenal legend, having played for the club for five seasons and winning two FA Cup trophies, but his appointment as Gunners manager in 2019 (after the dismissal of Unai Emery) was seen as a refreshing change following the long-term reign of Arsene Wenger.
Arteta took the hold of Arsenal after leaving his post as assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, and his role at the Emirates is his first as head coach of a club. The Spaniard won the FA Cup and Community Shield in his first year.
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Andrea Pirlo - Juventus
After having earned his reputation as one of the greatest playmakers of all time with Juventus, Andrea Pirlo returned to the club as head coach in 2020 after calling time on his playing career in 2017 with New York City FC.
Pirlo lifted his first trophy with Juventus on January 20, 2021, beating Napoli 2-0 in the Italian Supercup final.
Luis Enrique - Barcelona
Luis Enrique is one of just a handful of players who have played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona, joining the Blaugrana from the Blancos in 1996.
Enrique was appointed Barcelona manager following the resignation of Gerardo Martino, winning two La Liga titles, three Copa del Rey trophies and one Champions League trophy - as well as masterminding the legendary 6-1 comeback against PSG in the same European competition in 2017.
Diego Simeone - Atletico Madrid
Diego Simeone has become synonymous with Atletico Madrid, having played for the club for two seasons. Simeone has now been in charge of Atletico since 2011, leading the club to a La Liga trophy in 2013-14 (and shaking up the duality that has been Real Madrid and Barcelona in the Spanish top flight) as well as a Copa del Rey.
He led Atletico Madrid to two Champions League finals that they lost to local rivals Real Madrid, eventually lifting the Europa League trophy in 2018.
Antonio Conte - Juventus
Antonio Conte might have incensed Bianconeri fans after taking on the role as head coach of Inter in 2019, despite guiding Juventus to three Serie A titles and two Italian Supercups.
The Italian was in charge of Juventus during a match-fixing controversy, however, which may have clouded his legacy at the Allianz.
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Bob Paisley - Liverpool
Bob Paisley was given a tough job when he was named as successor to Bill Shankly as Liverpool manager, but his reign in charge of the Reds led to one of the most successful periods in the club’s history.
Paisley made 253 appearances for Liverpool from 1939-1954 and was appointed head coach in 1974, where the club dominated both England and Europe; winning six league titles, three League Cups and three European Cups.
Alan Shearer - Newcastle
You’ll be forgiven if you forgot about Alan Shearer returning to his former club as interim manager in 2009, when the club were in need of desperate measures to avoid Premier League relegation.
It didn’t work, as over the course of eight games as manager, Shearer managed to win just one game as coach and the Magpies were relegated to the Championship anyway.
Roberto Di Matteo - Chelsea
A Chelsea player from 1996 to 2002 before the Roman Abramovich years, Roberto Di Matteo took charge as Chelsea manager following the dismissal of Andre Villas-Boas in 2012.
Di Matteo was initially given the job on a temporary basis as he was Villas-Boas’ assistant, but managed to guide Chelsea to both an FA Cup and their first Champions League title after a shock victory over Bayern Munich in the final at the Allianz Arena.
The honeymoon period didn’t last long, however, and though he was named permanent manager for the following season, Di Matteo was sacked later that November following a run of poor results.
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Gennaro Gattuso - AC Milan
Not all stories of club legends managing their former clubs are successful, as Gennaro Gattuso’s time coaching AC Milan demonstrates.
Gattuso was in charge of AC Milan for just two campaigns and missed out on Champions League qualification in his first full season in charge by just one point, finishing fifth in Serie A, leading to his departure from the club on mutual terms.
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Graeme Souness - Liverpool
Graeme Souness followed Kenny Dalglish as another player from the club’s golden years who eventually ended up coaching the Reds.
Souness, however, didn’t quite live up to the glittering standards of former Liverpool managers Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Dalglish, winning just one FA Cup trophy during his three-year managerial stint.
Kevin Keegan - Newcastle
Kevin Keegan played for the Magpies for just two seasons between 1982 and 1984, and is by no means considered a Newcastle legend.
Keegan came deliriously close to beating Manchester United in the race for the Premier League title, though, saying, "I would love it if we beat them! Love it!” – but ultimately failing in his pursuit. Keegan was responsible for signing the legendary Alan Shearer for the club, breaking the then-world transfer fee record in doing so (£15 million).
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Alan Pardew - Crystal Palace
Again, referring to Alan Pardew as a legend of any sort might seem to be a bit of a stretch, but he definitely had his moments as an Eagles player. He netted the winner against Liverpool in the 1990 FA Cup semi-final, and was instrumental in ensuring Crystal Palace’s promotion to the top flight the previous campaign.
His managerial record for Palace, however, is not as sunny - he did manage to steer the club out of relegation once he was appointed manager in January 2015, but by December 2016, he had won just six of 36 games.
Thierry Henry - Monaco
Thierry Henry is universally known as an Arsenal legend, but the Frenchman got his playing career started at Monaco - scoring 28 goals in 139 gmes. After a brief spell as a second assistant coach to Roberto Martinez for the Belgium national team, Henry took over as Monaco coach following the dismissal of Leonardo Jardim.
The former forward’s time at the Ligue 1 side, however, was difficult - Henry lasted just barely three months as manager, and was dismissed with the club languishing in 19th place.