There’s an old adage that great footballers don’t always make great managers. People who spread this myth have most likely forgotten that some of the best managers in the world today also had successful playing careers. Pep Guardiola is one such example.
During the 1990s, the Spaniard had a spectacular career as a Barcelona player. Between 1991 and 2001, he won 16 trophies with the Blaugrana before returning to manage the club in 2008, where he oversaw another trophy-laden period.
Many football legends have followed Guardiola’s lead in returning to manage their former clubs in the last decade. While some have quickly inscribed their names in the history books as a result of their tremendous success, others are still working to establish their legacies.
On that note, here are five legends who returned to manage their former clubs:
Number 1: Zinedine Zidane
When discussing the greatest footballers in history, Zinedine Zidane’s name always comes up. The Frenchman won everything there was to win in the game, including the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA Champions League, the European Championship, and many others.
Zidane is best known for his time at Real Madrid, where he scored 49 goals and assisted 68 times in 227 games between 2001 and 2006. After hanging up his boots, the Frenchman moved into management and was appointed manager of Los Blanco’s midway through the 2015-16 season.
Between 2016 and 2018, the 49-year-old won three consecutive Champions League titles. During his two stints at the Santiago Bernabeu, he also won two La Liga titles, two Spanish Super Cups, two Club World Cups, and two UEFA Super Cups.
Number 2: Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard had a successful career at Chelsea, winning several trophies. One Champions League, three Premier Leagues, and four FA Cups are included. The Englishman began his managerial career in 2017 and was quickly promoted to head coach when Championship club Derby County offered him the position in 2018.
Chelsea noticed Lampard after a good performance with the Rams. He was then allowed to manage the club for the 2019-20 season. The Englishman did an excellent job, grooming young stars such as Mason Mount, Reece James, and Billy Gilmour.
Lampard was later released in January of this year after a string of poor performances. During his one-and-a-half-year stint at Chelsea, the Englishman amassed a record of 44 wins, 25 losses, and 15 draws across all competitions.
Number 3: Andrea Pirlo
Andrea Pirlo is regarded as one of the best midfielders of his generation. The Italian had a successful playing career, scoring 73 goals and assisting 125 times in 756 club games.
He was a formidable foe to be reckoned with. Even as a Juventus player nearing the end of his career, the legendary midfielder managed to capture the attention of the football world.
Pirlo returned to manage Juventus’ U23 team in the summer of 2020 after retiring from playing. He was promoted to senior team coach in less than two weeks and had a decent stint for a newcomer.
The tactician was in charge of the team for only one season, during which time they won both the Italian Cup and the Italian Super Cup. In total, he was in charge of the club for 52 games, winning 34, drawing ten, and losing eight.
However, under Pirlo’s leadership, Juventus failed to win the Serie A title for the first time in a decade, leading to his dismissal.
Number 4: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was named caretaker manager of Manchester United shortly after Jose Mourinho was fired in December 2018. After three months, a couple of impressive results earned the Norwegian a full-time coaching position.
Manchester United’s reaction in the second half demonstrates why the board decided to give Ole Gunnar Solskjr some time following poor performances. The first half was terrible, but Manchester United wants to protect Ole. Now, on to Liverpool. MUFC #MUFC
Solskjaer has led the Red Devils to 92 wins, 35 draws, and 39 assists in 166 games across all competitions. This season, however, has proven to be extremely difficult for the tactician. But he still has the club’s support, thanks in part to his status as a Manchester United legend.
During his time at Manchester United, the Norwegian was a massive force to be reckoned with. Between 1996 and 2007, he had 126 goals and 50 assists for the club, winning several trophies. Six Premier League titles and one Champions League title were among them.
Number 5: Xavi Hernandez
Xavi Hernandez is the most recent football legend to be named manager of his former club. Following Ronald Koeman’s expected dismissal last month, the Spaniard has been named as Barcelona’s new coach.
Under the Spaniard, many expect the Blaugrana to revert to their famous possession-based and pro-attacking system. During his time as a Blaugrana midfielder, Xavi was a master of the art.
The Spaniard had a highly successful career at Camp Nou, scoring 85 goals and assisting 185 times in 767 appearances. He also assisted the club in winning numerous trophies, including four Champions League titles, eight La Liga titles, eight Spanish Super Cups, and many more.