20 Legendary Coaches That Changed World Football

Karla Villegas Gama

What would football be without the coaches? Sure, players like Bobby Charlton, Pelé, Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and others are great, but the strategy and motivation that the boss brings is undeniable.

Managers come and go, but a handful of them become key elements of the club or national team they are in charge of.

Johan Cruyff, Pep Guardiola, Matt Bubsy are just some of these masterminds of world football.

Franz Beckenbauer

The Emperor was one of the best players in the world, but Franz Beckenbauer had some success as a manager too.

He's the only person to have won the World Cup as captain and coach, after hoisting the trophy in his own country in 1974 and again in Italy in 1990.

Beckenbauer's managerial style focused on savoring the game and encouraging his players not to concede a single goal.

He translated his charisma and leadership from the pitch to the locker room, which helped him lead Olympique de Marseille to the the Ligue 1 title in the 1990/1991 season, win the 1993-1994 Bundesliga and the 1995-1996 UEFA Cup on the sideline for Bayern Munich.

Sir Matt Busby

A standard bearer of Manchester United, Sir Matt Busby managed to put the Red Devils atop the table in two periods: the early 50's and the late 60's.

The team was called the Busby Babes, due to the young players that he coached, including Bobby Charlton and Duncan Edwards. The club was en route to a golden era, but eight footballers were killed in the Munich tragedy.

After a lot of effort, Matt built a brand new team and led the club to two more First Division titles. He had already won three, plus a European Cup.

He's part of the English and European Halls of Fame, inducted into both under the coach category.

Fabio Capello

Former England boss Fabio Capello was loyal to the Italian defensive style, but later found an equilibrium with the offensive line.

He gave us the first glimpses of his ability with Milan in the early 90's, when he led the team on an undefeated run of 58 Serie A games. He also established himself as a tough manager when it came to discipline.

In 1996, Capello left the Rossoneri and went to Real Madrid, but his defensive style sent him off of the club, so he returned to Milan. Then came Roma, Juventus, a second spell on Real Madrid and finally the English football team.

It was with the Three Lions that he developed a new style of play based on passes and touches, which allowed the midfielders to show their creativity and distribute the ball more accurately.

Brian Clough

Perhaps the most impressive thing Brian Clough did was taking Derby and Nottingham Forest to the First Division after being Second Division teams.

Even more impressive is the fact that he managed to win the First Division title with both of them.

He was a coach that believed in discipline and intuition as cornerstones and the way his squads played wasn't attractive at all, as he used strength and physical attributes as major boosters.

Clough's honors include two European Cups, four League Cup titles and a FA Charity Shield.

Johan Cruyff

If someone showed us that football can be attractive, fun and enjoyable, it is Johan Cruyff.

The Dutchman took Barcelona to a whole new level by implementing the tiki-taka strategy, characterized by two key elements: short, quick passes accompanied by players moving around. This system is currently used by Spain's national team and Barça.

Keeping the strategy simple and always forward was a must for Cruyff's teams, hence the total play strategy he adopted both as a player and as a manager.

He won the Copa del Rey, La Liga, Supercopa de España, UEFA Super Cup and UEFA Champions League.

Sir Alex Ferguson

Being in charge of a club for 25 years is not an easy task, but Sir Alex Ferguson has taken to his role as Manchester United's manager with aplomb.

He got to the club in 1986, but it wasn't until the 1989-1990 season that he grabbed his first title, at the FA Cup and the FA Community Shield (shared with Liverpool).

Ferguson has always been a manager that supports and trusts his players, but demands discipline on and off the pitch.

He has taken individual talents—including Wayne Rooney, Eric Cantona and Roy Keaneto— to their highest point by polishing their skills.

Manchester United has been through a lot of phases and the boss has managed to adjust to every single one of them, becoming the most successful coach in English football history with a record 19 league titles, two UEFA Champions Leagues and a FIFA Club World Cup.

He was recently appointed by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics as the Best Coach of the 21st century.

Pep Guardiola

Barcelona's boss has taken the tiki-taka strategy to heart and has been quite successful. Pep Guardiola has created a team whose lines understand the tactic perfectly.

When he came to his first team, in 2008, Pep decided to sell or release players on loan, like Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Deco, and put together a team which included several players from La Masia.

He's widely known for his inspirational methods, such as the video he showed his players before the final match of the 2008/2009 UEFA Champions League, which the team won.

Guardiola has given Barça more titles than any other manager and he keeps proving why he received the FIFA Ballon d'Or as Best Coach in 2011 and IFFHS World's Best Club Coach of the Year in 2009 and 2011.

Ernst Happel

Austrian manager Ernst Happel became the first coach to have won the European Cup (Champions League) with two different clubs: Feyenoord (1969/1970) and Hamburg (1982/1983).

Happel also claimed the league title in four different countries: Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Austria. Most of his success can be attributed to his attacking strategy, as well as smothering the rival to pressure the ball.

One of his most remembered achievements was coaching the Dutch national team to the 1978 World Cup final.

Helenio Herrera

Atlético de Madrid, Sevilla, Barcelona, Internazionale and Roma are just some of the teams Helenio Herrera coached in style.

The Wizard was one of the very first managers to demand fitness and an appropriate diet of his players. He was also known for being a motivator, especially prior to important matches, like the ones of the European Cup.

Despite being widely associated with defensive strategies, especially to Catenaccio, when he went to Barcelona, he decided to tweak the attacking line by using the wingers as inside-forwards.

His honors include seven league titles with Atlético de Madrid, Barcelona and Internazionale.

Guus Hiddink

Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala appointed Guus Hiddink as head coach last February.
For him it's just another team on a list that includes PSV Eindhoven, Valencia, Real Madrid and Chelsea, as well as Dutch, South Korean, and Russian national teams.

But the way Hiddink uses the defensive-midfielders in the classic 4-4-2 is superb, as he allows them to become part of the offensive.

He's a coach that demands creativity and attacking skills, plus he knows how to lead a group of players instead of only taking advantage of high-profile talent.

Guus has accomplished tough feats, like taking Australia to the round of 16 in the 2006 World Cup, qualifying Russia for the 2008 Euro and winning more than 10 titles in the clubs he's served.

Ottmar Hitzfeld

German manager Ottmar Hitzfeld gave his country's football program a whole new face with his successful offensive strategies.

Hitzfeld took Aurau to the top of the Swiss league, which he eventually won, and did the same with Grasshopper in 1989 and 1990.

He also helped Borussia Dortmund grab a Bundesliga title after 30 years, accomplishing the feat in 1994-1995 and 1995-1996. He later took the team to the 1996-1997 UEFA Champions League, which they conquered.

Ottmar's managerial skills took him to Bayern Munich where he lifted a UEFA Champions League trophy and five Bundesliga titles.

Hitzfeld is in favor of speed, faster tempo, touching the ball constantly and closing lines, a style of play he's practiced with Switzerland since 2008.

Marcello Lippi

Marcello Lippi led Italy to victory in the 2006 World Cup using a simple philosophy: the team must be united.

During his coaching career Lippi believed that a squad can have a lot of talented players, but won't succeed without a strong mentality and team effort. Thus, the formation should be based on the skills of the footballers.

Aside from Lippi, no other boss has won both a World Cup and a Champions League title.

Prior to becoming Italy's manager, he was in charge of Pontedera, Siena, Pistoiese, Carrarese, Cesena, Lucchesse, Atalanta, Napoli, Juventus and Internazionale.

Rinus Michels

Marinus Michles was one of the greatest managers in Dutch football. He was in front of the Netherlands national team at the 1974 World Cup that lost to West Germany.

Rinus used to take needy teams and turn them around, then leave to repeat the cycle.

For instance, he took Ajax all the way to the last stage of the 1969 European Cup, which they lost to Milan before returning two years later to win the title for the first time.

Michels combined different systems, but it was Total Football that he truly embraced and polished. He also influenced other managers like Johan Cruyff.

Jose Mourinho

José Mourinho is one of the most polemic coaches in football, but has proven his ability and skills with Real Madrid, Chelsea, Benfica, Porto, Uniao de Leira and Internazionale.

Known for his compact style of play, which resulted in a nine year (150 game) undefeated home run.

His provocative comments and temper contrast with his ability to adapt to new leagues. For instance, he used to be a lot more defensive with Internazionale than he has been with Real Madrid, where he has set a strategy based on attacking led by Cristiano Ronaldo and Mezut Ozil.

Mourinho has given Real Madrid stability and its first title since 2008, when the club won La Liga and the Supercopa de España.

Miguel Muñoz

Miguel Muñoz established Real Madrid as one of the most powerful teams in Europe. He claimed La Liga nine times, only missing it in 1965-1966 and 1969-1970.

Muñoz was such a talented manager that he spent 16 years with Los Blancos, the longest-serving coach the club has had. Nobody else has accomplished what he did with Real Madrid.

The Spaniard coached some of the most talented players in the world, like Alfredo Di Stéfano and Ferenc Puskás.

Bob Paisley

Bob Paisley managed Liverpool from 1974 to 1983, enough time to take the club to a whole new level and become the most successful coach in the team's history.

He won at least one title in eight of the nine seasons he spent with the Reds, including six First Division championships, three European Cups and five FA Charity Shields.

Paisley knew how to move his players according to the different scenarios he came across. Psychology was a very important part of his strategy, as he always seemed to get the most from his sides.

He was voted Manager of the Year six times: 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982 and 1983.

Nereo Rocco

If you think of Catenaccio, then you must thank Nereo Rocco. This Italian manager devised a system that was based on an efficient defensive line, whose only task is to prevent goals from the rivals.

Rocco led Serie A team Triestina to the second place, the best place the club has had. The most impressive aspect of the result was that The Master used the Catenaccio strategy all throughout the season, making it famous all over Europe.

His results took him to Milan, where he won the European Cup in 1963 and 1969.

Luiz Felipe Scolari

Brazilian manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has been in front of 17 teams, including Portugal, Brazil, Chelsea, Palmeiras and Cruceiro.

Freedom is a must for Scolari, and he experiments with a variety of formations but prefers 4-3-2-1, 3-4-1-2 and 4-3-3. 

The midfielders play a key role in the the offensive strategy, with fast and furious runs through the center of the pitch.

The wingers are also cornerstones in every team he manages as he tends to switch them constantly, allowing them to create a diversity of plays and set very different game paces.

Luiz Felipe is an explosive and temperamental coach, who applauds the good performances but also recognizes erratic plays.

His honors include hoisting the 2002 World Cup and two Copa Libertadores.

Giovanni Trapattoni

Giovani Traparroni is without a question one of the most prolific coaches in history.

Along with Ernst Heppel, Trap managed to win the league title in four different countries: Austria, Germany, Italy and Portugal.

His teams were successful because he knew that a well disciplined club with a strong defense could be unbeatable, and he managed to make it happen with Milan, Juventus, Internazionale, Bayern Munich, Benfica and Salzburg.

Arsene Wenger

He's been in charge of Arsenal since 1996, and in that time Arsene Wenger has won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and four Community Shields.

Arsene is widely known because he sets a packed midfield and gives a lot of freedom to the forwards. He currently used a 4-3-3 formation, but has also tried the traditional 4-4-2.

Financially, he prefers to train youngsters and work with them to develop their abilities rather than spending as much as other managers on high-profile players.

After 16 years with the Gunners, Wenger has won 57 percent of the matches he's disputed.


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