Ranking The 45 Top Football Coaches Who Led Their Teams To Victory And Achieved Impressive Feats
Football is the kind of sport that manages to unite the entire planet. Particularly during the World Cup, nations exhibit uncommon unity. The competition is frequently viewed as a chance to create the best overview of a society that values good sportsmanship.
While people love the sport itself, they don’t always understand the things that happen behind the curtains. In football, people frequently mix up the roles of manager and head coach.
Along with the owner, the head coach chooses and prepares the team members. Their primary duty is to assist the players in their development. The head coach also assists them in performing well on the field. The manager is in charge of the team’s administration and operations. He oversees player contracts and has the ability, if necessary, to hire more players. Together with the players, they contribute to continuing to develop a sport that’s loved by billions.
As in every profession, there are coaches who stand out for their incredible talent and ability to lead the greatest teams in the world. Here is a ranking of 45 iconic coaches who have led their teams to victory, from great to greatest!
45. Sir Alf Ramsey (“The General”) – England
Alf played for and led the England national team as a player. But, he is known best for his tenure as England’s manager, which spanned from 1963 to 1974. This includes leading the nation to victory at the 1966 FIFA World Cup.
Owing to his keen football intellect and adaptability to his methods, he earned the nickname “The General.” Being a severe enforcer of discipline, Ramsey was way ahead of his generation. However, he was arguably best renowned for his capacity to inspire the best performance in his team members.
44. Antonio Conte – Italy
Antonio Conte was a former player and an Italian professional football manager. He has managed Siena, Chelsea, Juventus, and the Italian national football team. Conte launched his managing career when he guided Bari towards the Serie B championship in 2006.
Two years later, under his direction, the squad got promoted to the first division. He ended up taking over as Juventus’ manager in 2011, and his side scored three straight Serie A championships. He served as the Italian national squad’s head coach for a couple of years.
43. Kenny Dalglish (“King Kenny”) – Scotland
By his colleagues and also in fan ballots, Kenny Dalglish is regularly hailed as Scotland’s most outstanding player. He continues to be referred to by Anfield club followers as “King Kenny” in modern times. He continued his tenure at Liverpool as a player-manager.
He led the team to more glory and helped them win the FA Cup and then another league championship in 1986. With an increased role as a manager, he oversaw two other league championships as well as another FA Cup victory up to his abrupt resignation in 1991.
42. Massimiliano Allegri – Italy
Pro football manager, and former national player, Massimiliano Allegri has led Juventus for five seasons. While his critics rarely overlook an opportunity to minimize his accomplishments and question his career and personal decisions, it is difficult to ignore his extraordinary rate of success.
During his four seasons in charge of Milan, he guided his team to win both the Serie A and Supercoppa Italiana. With the exception of two Supercoppa Italiana victories, he has earned Juventus four straight Serie A and Coppa Italia championships.
41. Bobby Robson – England
Sir Robert William “Bobby” Robson was a well-known and esteemed manager and player for England. He participated in over 20 games with the national football squad during the course of his pro career, featuring games in the 1958 and 1962 World Cups.
During the period from 1982 to 1990, he served as the national team’s manager, guiding them to quarterfinal appearances in 1986 and 1990. Bobby was knighted in 2002. He was honored by the Hall of Fame in his home country the following year.
40. Luís Aragonés – Spain
Atlético Madrid was where Aragonés played and coached for the bulk of his noteworthy tenure. He was a well-known player for the Atlético squad throughout the late 1960s and the early 1970s, and he later served as their head coach.
The group won four national championships and advanced to the 1974 European Cup Final. In addition to Atlético, he also served as the head coach of the Spanish national team, which he guided to their second European Championship victory in 2008.
39. Herbert Chapman – England
Herbert Chapman, who won titles with Huddersfield and Arsenal, is frequently cited as the greatest tactical thinker of the 20th century. He transformed the way his sides played, steering English football out of the scuffle-filled, attack-oriented manner of the Edwardian era.
Chapman pioneered a passing and teamwork-focused approach. He established the “center half to monitor opposing center forwards” when a 2-3-5 configuration was the norm. The employment of a deep-lying inside forward to connect the action across attack and defense, thereby devising the counterattack, was his brainchild.
38. Carlos Alberto Parreira – Brazil
Unlike Carlos Alberto Parreira, few people have figured out the formula for success on a global scale. With six different teams he has accompanied into World Cup contests since 1982, he presently maintains the milestone for most appearances. But that’s not all the famed coach is about.
Parreira possesses the hardware necessary to establish himself as a legend. At the 1994 World Cup, 2004 Copa América, and 2005 Confederations Cup, he led Brazil to victory. He has been the only coach to have guided two different Asian sides to AFC Asian Cup victories.
37. Franz Beckenbauer (“der Kaiser”) – Germany
Former German football player Franz Beckenbauer has been the only person to have headed and managed World Cup-winning squads (1974 and 1990, respectively). Beckenbauer is also known as “der Kaiser.” He was perhaps the best football player in Germany during the 1960s and 1970s.
He created the contemporary role of the offensive sweeper, an elegant and clever player who starts the offense from central defense with nimble passes and long dashes. He is also frequently credited with creating the position of the modern sweeper (libero).
36. Victor Maslov – Russia
Victor Maslov is one of the most creative and impactful football managers in history. He’s also one that most people won’t recognize. He created the 4-4-2 structure and the idea of pressing, as well as being the first to research proper player nutrition.
This was a significant breakthrough since, prior to Maslov, teams preferred to give their rivals more time to control the ball. Maslov’s pressing tactics eliminated this opportunity and changed the game so that speed and fitness became a mainstay of the sport.
35. Rafael “Rafa” Benitez – Spain
Benitez led Liverpool to the UEFA finals in 2007. With Valencia, he won two Spanish Championships (2002, 2004), the UEFA Cup (2004), and the FA Cup (2006) as a coach. With Liverpool, he won the Champions League and the European Super Cup in the same year, as well as the FA Cup in the following year.
He used a 4-2-3-1 configuration as his favorite setup when coaching Valencia and Liverpool. In English football, Benitez has a notoriety for being a difficult coach to please. His notable clashes with the skipper Steven Gerrard were well-reported by the tabloids.
34. Zinedine Zidane (“Zizou”) – France
Zidane is a retired attacking midfielder and current manager of pro football in France. Known as one of the greatest coaches in the world, he consequently led the Spanish team Real Madrid. Zidane is recognized as one of football’s all-time outstanding players.
He was a maestro admired for his grace, foresight, handling, passing ability, and skill. As a player, he won numerous career honors, such as the 1998 Ballon d’Or and the titles of FIFA World Player of the Year in 1998, 2000, and 2003.
33. Luiz Felipe Scolari (“Felipão”) – Brazil
Scolari is a Brazilian football manager and FIFA World Cup champion. He played professionally in the past, and now he is currently the manager of Club Atletico Paranaense in the Big 12. He took over as manager of Portugal’s national football team in 2003.
This move happened following Brazil’s 2002 World Cup victory, and he served in that capacity through June 30, 2008. Since 2012, he has been the Brazil national football team’s head coach. His impressive managing resume includes up to 20 team names.
32. Josef “Jupp” Heynckes (“Osram”) – Germany
Jupp Heynckes is a German-born ex-professional football player and coach. He participated in both the 1972 UEFA European Championship and the 1974 FIFA World Cup as a West German national team player. He coached Real Madrid through one UEFA Championship, and a Supercopa de España win.
He coached FC Schalke 04 for two UEFA Intertoto Cup wins and Bayern Munich through four Bundesliga wins, one DFB-Pokal, three DFL-Supercup, and a UEFA Championship triumph. Since he appears notably scarlet while under duress, he is also referred to as “Osram!”
31. Vicente del Bosque – Spain
Vicente del Bosque led Real Madrid to seven victories, counting two Champions League Final appearances in 2000 and 2002, in the lot. Just the iconic Madrid teams of the 1950s and 1960s can match this feat. He’s a true living legend.
He has the rare distinction of being the only football manager to date to have won the Champions League, the World Cup, the European Championship, as well as the Intercontinental Cup. He is recognized as being one of the best ever to manage a team.
30. Arsène Wenger – France
Arsène Wenger commenced his managerial tenure with the French team AS Monaco after managing the team “Nancy.” In the mid-90s, he became Arsenal’s head manager in the EPL. After years in this position, the coach became the club’s manager with the longest tenure.
He has assisted Arsenal in capturing multiple competitions. He is recognized as having more wins under his management compared to any other EPL manager in history. A Premier League team had never gone undefeated in 115 years until Arsenal did it throughout the 2004 league season.
29. Udo Lattek – Germany
Lattek is most known for his two terms at Bayern, where in 1974, he led the team to its inaugural European Cup victory. Additionally, he had been a member of the coaching staff that led West Germany to the 1966 World Cup final.
Although they lost to England at Wembley Stadium, it was a huge achievement. Lattek won the Cup Winners’ Cup alongside Barcelona in 1982 and the UEFA Cup with Monchengladbach in 1979, giving him the enviable accomplishment of leading clubs to all three main European championships.
28. John “Jock” Stein – Scotland
John Stein, a football player and manager with Scottish ancestry, became the first manager of a British team ever to capture the European Cup. Over the course of the thirteen years he oversaw the football club Celtic, he received a significant amount of admiration and achievement.
He led them toward a European Cup victory and nine straight Scottish League titles. He left Celtic briefly to handle other football clubs before coming back to Celtic as manager. He spent 13 years working for the team before moving on to coach the Scottish National Team.
27. Vittorio Pozzo (“Il Vecchio Maestro”) – Italy
As the inventor of the Metodo tactical structure and as one of the best managers in history, Pozzo led the Italy national side to two FIFA World Cup victories in 1934 and 1938. He became the first and last manager to accomplish this feat.
Pozzo really excelled in creating a formidable team that was on the same level as many other teams throughout the first half of the twentieth century. He established the Italian team’s reputation for precise precision and iron practicality, which the team was known for.
26. Juergen Klopp – Germany
After matching Ottmar Hitzfeld’s five-title record, Klopp bid farewell to Borussia Dortmund as the joint-most celebrated coach throughout the club’s history. He won two Bundesliga championships, a German Cup, and two Super Cups during his tenure. He won German Football Manager of the Year in 2011 and 2012.
Since the award’s inception in 2002, he has continued to be the sole individual to receive it in back-to-back years. Klopp is renowned for his hilarious touchline celebrations, and once when his team scored, he got overexcited and tore a muscle!
25. Mário Zagallo – Brazil
Mário Zagallo is a Brazilian football manager and an ex-professional striker. With four overall World Cup victories, he now retains the record for WC titles in general. Zagallo was the first individual to have won the FIFA World Cup both as a manager and as a player.
He took home the trophy in 1970 as manager and then in 1994 as assistant manager. He won the tournament in 1958 and 1962 as a player. He has also been the only person to have won the World Cup in both managerial and playing roles twice!
24. Bela Guttman – Hungary
Bela Guttman was a Hungarian player and coach. He was a midfielder for numerous clubs in the US and Europe, but he also played in South America. He is best recognized for his tenure as a coach and manager at the following clubs.
Namely, AC Milan, São Paulo FC, FC Porto, Benfica, and C.A. Pearol. With Benfica, he achieved his biggest triumph, leading them towards two straight European Cup victories in 1961 and 1962. Guttmann was a member of a trio of avant-garde Hungarian coaches who established the 4-2-4 formation.
23. Valeriy Lobanovskyi – Ukraine
Despite winning over twenty different trophies during his time as a coach, Valeriy Lobanovskyi is hardly remembered by football admirers outside of his home country, Ukraine, or Russia, the country where he coached for the majority of his professional career.
He coached three players toward the Ballon d’Or while leading the USSR to the 1988 Euro final. The way Valeriy advocated put him way ahead of his fellow coaches. He was leagues ahead of Johan Cruyff and Rinus Michels, the two Dutch gurus, in terms of research and statistical analysis.
22. Louis Van Gaal – Germany
In addition to leading Bayern toward the UEFA Champions League final, which they ended up losing to Inter Milan, Van Gaal successfully managed to capture the German title that year. He introduced a fresh approach to the sport to Germany.
This approach at Bayern set the stage for the Rekordmeister’s impending ten-year reign of terror. After he left, Jupp Heynckes and Pep Guardiola carried on the traditions of total football, with emphasis on beautiful play and the tactical superiority that Van Gaal had established at the club.
21. Otto Rehhagel (“King Otto”) – Germany
Rehhagel is one of the only two individuals who have taken part in more than 1,000 Bundesliga games, both as a player and a manager (the other being Jupp Heynckes). He is responsible for the most wins (387), draws (205), and losses (228) in the Bundesliga.
His teams have also scored more goals (1,473) and allowed the fewest goals (1,142) compared to any other team. He oversaw the Greek national team during its most prosperous phase, which ran from 2001 to 2010. Greece won the 2004 European Championship and reached the 2010 World Cup.
20. Telê Santana – Brazil
Telê Santana directed his team to push the attack and score goals, while the majority of managers preferred solid defense and close marking. Telê was an expert at attacking play as a manager. The 1982 and 1986 Brazil national teams were put together by Telê, the team manager.
The 1982 team was the best ever, but they did not win the World Cup. He was just a very effective manager of several club teams, such as the storied São Paulo of 1992 and 1993. He also had a significant impact on Atlético Mineiro and Fluminense.
19. Bill Shankly – England
Bill Shankly wasn’t only a world-class manager. Through and through, he was indeed a legend. Between the time he was hired as Liverpool’s manager in December 1959 and the time he retired 15 years later, he improved the Liverpool team to new heights.
They became the best squad of its era, gaining three First Division championships, two FA Cups, a Second Division championship, as well as a UEFA Cup. He was a dynamic, renowned personality at the club whose stirring remarks always left the audience with warm memories.
18. Ottmar Hitzfeld (“die General”) – Germany
Ottmar Hitzfeld was born in Lörrach, Germany, but spent most of his life and played football in Switzerland. Ottmar has won 18 major championships overall, most of them while playing for clubs like Grasshopper Club Zürich, Borussia Dortmund, and Bayern Munich.
Hitzfeld is considered one of the most consistently successful coaches in German as well as international football. He was elected best coach of the world in more than one occasion, and he is part of an exclusive group of professionals that led two squads to victory in the Champions League.
17. Miguel Muñoz – Spain
Ages before the arrival of Zidane, Miguel Muñoz dedicated his all to Real Madrid and guided the club through probably their best periods. Real Madrid went on to become one of the most powerful and successful football organizations in the world.
Real Madrid’s greatest manager is rarely mentioned outside of Madrid. With his guidance, Real Madrid won two European Cups and nine La Liga championships. This comprises the fact that, as a player, he has won seven major championships across both main tournaments.
16. Fabio Capello – Italy
Fabio enjoyed great results as a player during his pro career, playing for Serie A clubs, including Milan, Juventus, Roma, and SPAL. He transitioned easily into a managerial career once his playing career was finished. He coached teams like A.C. Milan, Real Madrid, Roma, and Juventus.
In his career, the coach was in charge of the national teams of Russia and England. In total, he has won a major league title in almost half of his 16 seasons working as head coach in the European continent.
15. Brian Clough – England
Brian Clough was an English football player and manager. He competed as a striker for the English Football League teams Middlesbrough and Sunderland. He had quite a long and productive managerial association with his close AXfriend and assistant manager Peter Taylor.
The two friends elevated Derby County as well as Nottingham Forest. Together with Taylor, Derby won the Second Division Championship once, the First Division Championship once, the League Cup twice, and the European Cup twice. Nottingham Forest won the First Division Championship once.
14. Nereo Rocco – Italy
Nereo Rocco is acknowledged as among the best managers in history. He is well-known for having served as one of the most accomplished head coaches in Italy. Nereo led A.C. Milan to numerous national and international championships. Being a Trieste native, he employed the catenaccio formation.
He utilized that tactic inaugurally at Padova, as he guided a humble Veneto team to the third spot in Serie A. Rocco received the chance to move up and was hired as coach of AC Milan in 1961 following the successes with Triestina, Treviso, and Padova.
13. Carlo Ancelotti – Italy
Ancelotti had a significant role in Italy’s 1988 UEFA European Championship run, which saw them advance to the semi-finals. He also participated in the squads in the two World Cups that followed, helping Italy defeat England 2-1 in the 1990 third-place play-off.
He is one of just three managers to have won the European Cup or UEFA Champions League three times – twice with AC Milan and once with Real Madrid. Ancelotti has won 20 trophies in his career. Additionally, Ancelotti won the European Cup twice and three Serie A championships.
12. Sir Matthew Busby – England
Sir Matthew Busby was a well-known British football player who rose to prominence as Manchester United’s manager (1945–1971), director (1971–1982), as well as president (1980). He led the squad to unprecedented levels of success while he was serving as the club’s head manager.
He led the squad to five English Football League first-division titles (1952, 1956, 1957, 1965, and 1967), two FA Challenge Cup final wins (1948 and 1963), and the inaugural victory for an English club in the European Champions Clubs’ Cup finals (1968).
11. Marcello Lippi – Italy
From 2004 to 2006, Marcello Lippi presided over the Italian national squad. He took over as the head coach of the Italian national squad following Italy’s elimination from the UEFA Euro 2004. He effectively guided the group to a World Cup victory in 2006.
Many people consider Lippi to be within the ranks of greatest football managers in memory. He has won three Chinese Super League championships, three Series A crowns, one Coppa Italia, one Chinese FA Cup, and one UEFA Supercup throughout his career.
10. Robert “Bob” Paisley – England
Bob Paisley spent almost 50 years as a soccer player, manager, as well as executive at Liverpool. Bob was the best football manager who ever exemplified the skill of gently leading without letting his ego take over. He unwillingly accepted the position in 1974.
Based on the principles established by his predecessor Bill Shankly, he claimed 14 championships for Liverpool Football Club from 1974 to 1983. He’s the one and only British manager with three European Cup victories. Currently, he is recognized as one of the greatest soccer managers in history.
09. José Mourinho (“The Special One”) – Portugal
José Mourinho is the present head coach of the Italian Serie A club Roma. Mourinho is regarded as one of the best ever to manage a team and ranks among the most awarded managers in history. He won two Serie A championships while at Inter Milan.
Also, in 2010, Inter Milan became the first Italian team to win a European treble by winning the Serie A, Coppa Italia, and UEFA Champions League. He is one of just five coaches to achieve a double European Cup victory.
08. Helenio Herrera (“Il Mago”) – Argentina
During most of the 1950s and 1960s, this famed Inter coach was a trendsetter and an icon. Helenio has won numerous accolades throughout his managerial career, including four La Liga championships, two Copa del Rey titles, three Italian championships, and two European Cups.
He made football history in the middle of the 20th century and, throughout the course of his career, altered the function of the gaffer. His innovative use of psychological methods and distinctive coaching strategies propelled the Nerazzurri to the pinnacle of European football.
07. Ernst Happel – Austria
In the Netherlands, Belgium, West Germany, and Austria, Happel managed to win both league and domestic cup championships. He twice won the European Cup, with Feijenoord in 1970 and Hamburger SV in 1983. He also guided Club Brugge to a 1978 European Cup runner-up finish.
He led the Netherlands to a 1978 FIFA World Cup runners-up title. He is the first to have gained the European Cup with two different clubs. He is also among the six managers to also have captured the top-tier domestic league titles in at least four different nations.
06. Johan Cruyff – The Netherlands
Johan Cruyff is perhaps one of the best football players and managers in the history of the game. All through the course of his illustrious pro career, he had a significant impact on contemporary football. Ajax and Barcelona were under Cruyff’s management as a manager.
But, it was with Barcelona where he had the greatest impact because he helped them win many titles and create a squad that became the envy of the world. He assisted the team in becoming one of the major forces in contemporary football.
05. Giovanni Trapattoni – Italy
Trapattoni joined an elite group of five managers who have achieved League wins in four separate nations. With Juventus, AC Milan, and Internazionale, he won 10 championships in Italy. He then saw a similar outcome with Bayern (Germany), Benfica (Portugal), and Red Bull Salzburg (Austria).
Trapattoni serves as the only other coach, except Udo Lattek, who has won the European, UEFA, and Cup-Winners’ Cups, which are the three most important club championships in Europe. As a player and manager, he is among a select few people to have won the European Cup, Cup-Winners’ Cup, and Intercontinental Cup.
04. Josep “Pep” Guardiola – Spain
In June 2007, Guardiola got his debut coaching experience as the head coach of Barcelona’s B team. The following summer, he got swiftly promoted to manager of the main team. While there, he successfully managed to leave his mark at Camp Nou.
He did that by winning the UEFA Champions League, LaLiga, and Copa del Rey in his first season in command. At 37 years old, Guardiola became the youngest manager to win the UEFA Champions League in living memory. It was also the club’s first-ever treble.
03. Rinus Michels (“the General”) – The Netherlands
The fierce “total football” mode of play, wherein the players adjust, switch places, and adapt as necessary on the pitch, is attributed to Dutch footballer and coach Rinus Michels. “The General” coached Ajax from 1965 to 1971, winning three Dutch Cups (1967, 1970, and 1971).
Also, he won four league championships (1966, 1967, 1968, and 1970) and the European Cup (1971), which is now called the Champions League. He led the team to both the European Championship victory in 1988 and the World Cup final in 1974, where the Netherlands got defeated by Germany.
02. Arrigo Sacchi – Italy
Arrigo twice led AC Milan with considerable success (1987–1991 and 1996–1997). In his first season, 1987–88, he managed to capture the Serie A championship. Then, in 1989 and 1990, he conquered European football by claiming back-to-back European Cups for his team.
He served as the national team’s head coach from 1991 to 1996, guiding Italy toward the 1994 FIFA World Cup Final before losing to Brazil on penalties. His Milan team from 1987 to 1991 is widely acknowledged as one of the best club teams in the history of the sport.
01. Sir Alex Ferguson – Scotland
Scottish footballer and manager Alex Ferguson is most recognized for having led Manchester United (1986–2013). Ferguson was the longest-serving manager in “Man U” annals and helped the team win upwards of 30 national and international championships, notably two Champions League wins.
The wins also include five FA Cups and 13 Premier Leagues. With the Class of ’92, who helped make Manchester United a member of the wealthiest and most profitable clubs in the 1990s, Ferguson is commended for favoring the youth throughout his tenure with the team.