Many world-class players have graced the sport of football over the years. However, not all have had as much success on the other side of the field. Of course, there are always exceptions, such as Zinedine Zidane, Pep Guardiola, and, most recently, Steven Gerrard.
Most players stay in touch with the game after many years at the top level. They accomplish this by first serving as assistant coaches before managing top clubs. Many top players have taken this path in recent years.
On that note, here’s a look at eight current assistant coaches who are game legends in terms of their highest career market values:
Number 5: Yaya Toure
During his playing days, Yaya Toure had a successful two-decade career as a reputable midfielder.
The 38-year-old has played for clubs such as Barcelona and Manchester City and has appeared in over 600 competitions. Toure was a key member of City’s three Premier League-winning teams, establishing himself as a world-class central midfielder.
In 2019, the former Cote d’Ivoire international announced the end of his playing career. Toure is currently the assistant manager of FC Akhmat Grozny, a Russian club.
Toure began his managerial career with Olimpik Donetsk, where he served for less than four months.
Number 4: Michael Essien
During his playing career, Michael Essien was regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world.
During a successful career that spanned nearly 550 games for eight different clubs, the 38-year-old established himself as a world-class player at Chelsea. Essien also won four league titles while playing for Real Madrid, AC Milan, and Olympique Lyon.
The 2011-12 UEFA Champions League winner retired with Azerbaijan’s FK Sabail at the end of the 2019-20 season. Essien was hired as FC Nordsjaelland’s assistant coach a few months later. The ex-Chelsea player also scored nine goals in over 50 games for Ghana.
Number 3: Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie is one of the game’s most prolific strikers since the turn of the century.
The 38-year-old Dutchman made nearly 600 appearances in four different competitions for four different clubs, the majority of which were with Arsenal and Manchester United. Van Persie was instrumental in United’s Premier League victory in 2012-13, scoring 26 league goals.
Following a stint with Feyenoord, the Dutchman announced his retirement at the end of the 2018-19 season. Van Persie then returned to his boyhood club as a ‘forward coach.’ Van Persie is now the Under-16 team assistant coach at Feyenoord.
Number 2: Fernando Torres
During his playing career, Fernando Torres was one of the game’s most lethal goal scorers.
During his successful two-decade career, the 38-year-old played over 700 games across divisions. Torres had a stellar career with Liverpool, but his lone Champions League triumph came during a quiet period with Chelsea.
Torres had success with Spain as well, winning the FIFA World Cup and the European Championship twice. After finishing his playing career in 2019, the Spaniard became manager of his boyhood club Atletico Madrid.
Torres is currently in charge of the Rojiblancos’ Under-19 squad.
Number 1: Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry is one of the greatest strikers to have played the beautiful game, particularly since the turn of the century.
The 44-year-old was a classic goalscorer, scoring 360 goals in nearly 800 appearances for five different clubs. The all-time leading scorer for Arsenal was also a member of Barcelona’s historic UEFA Champions League-winning team in 2008-09.
After retiring from football in 2014, Henry took on his first managerial role at Arsenal, where he was the Gunners’ youth coach.
The 1998 FIFA World Cup champion is now Belgium’s assistant manager, reporting to Roberto Martinez.
Henry will look to replicate his success on the field during his time on the sidelines.