There are rare occasions when a player goes on to manage the same club they played for but there are a few notable mentions in this regard.
On Thursday, 28 March 2019, Manchester United finally announced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as their permanent manager after a decent spell as interim manager. This appointment entered the Norwegian in an exclusive club of footballers who have gone on to manage the same club they represented as players at one point in their careers.
In any circumstance, being able to lead the club once one represented on the field is a matter of pride and honor. The recent times have seen a lot of former players foray into the coaching side of football, namely Ryan Giggs, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Clarence Seedorf and Filippo Inzaghi, etc. to name a few.
This gives us the opportunity to analyse the top-five managers who have also represented their clubs as players in the past.
5. Gennaro Gattuso – A.C. Milan
For 13 years, Gennaro Gattuso played for The Rossoneri from 1999 to 2012, and accumulated an impressive 387 appearances. The Italian was a formidable presence in the heart of the Milan midfield and was famous for his short-tempered persona on the field. His decorated career saw him win UEFA Champions League (2), Italian Serie A (2), Coppa Italia , Italian Super Cup (2), FIFA Club World Cup, Intercontinental Cup, and UEFA Super Cup (2) with AC Milan.
Gennaro Gattuso as manager and player at AC Milan
The former defensive-midfielder was appointed as the manager of AC Milan on 27 November 2017 after Vincenzo Montella was sacked by the club. Gattuso was the head coach of Milan’s youth system before taking up the mantle of the senior team. His contract has been extended till 2021 but faces a stern challenge in bringing back the glory days of the last decade when AC Milan were a dominant side and has yet to deliver on that front.
4. Ernesto Valverde – FC Barcelona
The current manager at FC Barcelona, Ernesto Valverde, has also represented the Catalans for two seasons, from 1988 till 1990, scoring 8 goals in 22 appearances. He was appointed as the head coach at FCB at the start of the 2017/18 campaign, replacing Luis Enrique and had big shoes to fill.
Watch : Ernesto Valverde in action at FC Barcelona
His first season at the club saw him deliver the goods, winning the La Liga and the Copa del Rey. However, the gaffer is under tremendous pressure due to his pragmatic approach, instead of the free flowing football that the Barcelona fans have become accustomed to. Despite favorites to win the La Liga yet again, the 56-year-old will be targeting the UEFA Champions League trophy as the top priority in order to secure his position at the club for another season.
3. Diego Simeone – Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid have been a force to reckon with in recent years and owe a large credit for their success to Diego Simeone, who has been the manager since 2011. In that period, Atletico Madrid have won seven trophies ( La Liga, the Copa del Rey, the Supercopa de Espana, two UEFA Europa Leagues and two UEFA Super Cups); and also finished as the runner-ups twice in the UEFA Champions League. The Argentine holds a legendary status at the Spanish club duie to his contributions not only as a manager, but a player as well.
Diego Simeone as player and manager at Atletico Madrid.
The former defensive-midfielder spent five years at Atletico Madrid as a player between two spells, first being 1994 -1997 ( 98 appearances & 21 goals) and the second was from 2003-2005 ( 36 appearances & 2 goals). He went on to play a crucial part in Atletico’s double in the 1995-96 season where they won the La Liga and the Copa del Rey.
2. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – Manchester United
The Norwegian is most famously remembered for scoring the winning goal in the UEFA Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou in the treble winning 1998-99 season. He was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United in 1996 and spent 11 years at the club, hanging his boots in 2007 after making 235 appearances, scoring 91 goals in the process. He won a total of 12 trophies at United ( six Premier League titles , two FA Cups , two FA Community Shields , one UEFA Champions League and Intercontinental Cup each).
Watch : Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in action at Manchester United
The 46-year-old is still an up and coming name in the managerial arena, with one season as Cardiff City manager as his last high-profile job. Prior to joining Manchester United as caretaker manager, Solskjaer was the gaffer of the Norwegian club, Molde. He was made permanent manager by the MUFC hierarchy after a series of impressive results and a reignited spirit among the players since his arrival.
1. Zinedine Zidane – Real Madrid
Hailed as one of the finest midfield players to ever grace the sport, the Frenchman has recently been re-appointed as Real Madrid’s manager after a disappointing season under Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari. Zinedine Zidane managed Real Madrid in his first spell from 2016-2018, winning three consecutive Champions League trophies, a feat that took the footballing world by storm. He subsequently stepped down from the role in lookout for new challenges.
Watch : Zinedine Zidane in action at Real Madrid CF
As a player, Zidane joined Real Madrid from Juventus in a world record transfer fee at the time and played from 2001 through to 2005, making 155 appearances and scoring 37 goals. He won six major honors with the Spanish-outfit ( La Liga, Champions League, Intercontinental Cup, UEFA Super Cup and two Supercopa de Espana ). Zidane has been handed the responsibility to reinstate Madrid’s dominant status and steer the club into a new era.
Interestingly, there has been a slight change of approach by the big European clubs, who have favored to appoint former players for the post of the manager and there are reasons for that. The most obvious being that the former players understand the philosophy of the club from within and acknowledge the demands that are required to be fulfilled in order to be successful.