Professional football, or even amateur, is a game that is frequently linked to physical prowess, athleticism, and talent.
It is understandable why some of the best coaches are ex-pro footballers with in-depth knowledge of the game.
Many coaches, however, have been extremely successful despite never having played professional football.
These coaches have shown that one’s ability to coach a team to victory need not be hampered by a lack of playing experience.
Arrigo Sacchi is unquestionably one of Italy’s greatest managers who never played football. Sacchi took over as coach of the same Baracca Lugo team he couldn’t play for as a teenager.
Parma was moved up to the next level in his first season, and he took them to Serie A. He beat A.C. Milan in the first round of the Coppa Italia, which was more important because he was one of the coaches at Parma who had never played football. Sacchi built one of the best club teams at AC Milan and brought two European Cups back to the San Siro.
Brazil’s World Cup-winning coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira, started out as a trainer rather than a player. He was asked to oversee the youth teams in Kuwait, and that was the beginning of a fruitful career. Six World Cups have been won during this career, including Brazil’s victory in 1994.
Parreira led Brazil to victories in the 1994 World Cup, the Copa América in 2004, and the Confederations Cup in 2005. In 2005, he was named the IFFHS World’s Best National Coach.
After 44 great years at Auxerre, Guy Roux, possibly the best manager who never played football, left in 2005. Despite having no prior coaching experience and only having played for the club for almost ten years while it was still an amateur team, Guy Roux, age 23, was chosen to lead Auxerre.
During his rule at this club, stars like Eric Cantona, Laurent Blanc, Djibril Cisse, and Philippe Mexes all started their professional careers. In 1993, he made it to the UEFA Cup semifinals while also winning the league, the Coupe de France four times, and the Intertoto Cup.
Bill Struth was an excellent Rangers manager. A middle-distance runner by trade and a stonemason. In 1920, he was promoted to manager. During his 34-year time at Ibrox, he transformed the club into Scotland’s dominant force, winning an amazing 18 League titles, 10 Scottish Cups, and two League Cups.
He was the Rangers’ second manager and the first Scottish manager to win the treble. In addition, he won 14 Scottish titles in 19 years, including the main domestic knockout trophy for the first time in Rangers history in 1928. To honour his achievements, a bronze statue of him stands at Ibrox Stadium.
Andres got his start in coaching under Robson at Porto when he was just a teenager. At the age of 32, he took over as manager of Liga side Academica after serving as Jose Mourinho’s assistant. Before moving to Chelsea, he won the League and Cup double and the Europa League.
Kerr’s first coaching position was with the Crumlin United under-11 team when he was 13 years old. He took over as coach of the Shamrock Rovers B team at age 21 and rose through the ranks to become manager of the top-flight League of Ireland club St Patrick’s.
As coach he won the title twice before being appointed technical director of the Football Association of Ireland in 1996.
The national team’s under-20 team was coached to victory by Kerr. He was appointed Ireland’s national team manager in 2003 and Faroe Islands manager between 2009 and 2011.
Avram Grant has spent the majority of his coaching and management tenure in Israel, where he has won multiple national league and cup championships. Grant began his coaching career at the age of 18, making him one of the few football administrators who never started late. In 1990 and 1991, he led Hapoel Petah Tikva to two Toto Cup victories, restoring the club to the summit of Israeli football for the first time in nearly 25 years.
Following Mourinho’s departure in 2007, he took over as manager. Despite unpopularity among fans, he led the club to the 2008 Champions League final, which they lost to Manchester United on penalty kicks. He also had brief stints at Portsmouth, leading them to the FA Cup final.
Hodgson was a young player for Crystal Palace who was never selected for the starting lineup. Instead, at the age of 23, he began training to become a fully qualified manager. Later, he became Bob Houghton’s assistant manager at Maidstone United.
He has worked with national teams from Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, Finland, and most recently England. He has also coached at Fulham, Liverpool, and West Bromwich Albion. At Fulham, where he improbably salvaged the team from relegation in 2008 and guided them to the Europa League final in 2010, he achieved his greatest achievement as a Premier League coach.
Liverpool fans remember Gerard Houllier fondly for winning the FA Cup, League Cup, and UEFA Cup in the 2000/01 season. However, few people can boast of winning the Ligue 1 with two clubs.
Gerard Houllier did just that when he won three Ligue 1 titles, the first with PSG in 1985/86 and then with Olympique Lyonnais before resigning on May 25, 2007. Between 1992 and 1993, he coached the French national team, and from 2010 to 2011, he was the head coach of Aston Villa.
Paul Clement, previously managed Derby County, Swansea City, and Reading and coaching positions at Fulham, Blackburn Rovers, and the England and Republic of Ireland under-21 teams. From the age of 23, he focused on coaching while also working as a Physical Education teacher at the Chelsea Centre of Excellence.
Clement, as one of the managers who weren’t players, earned a UEFA ‘A’ coaching license in 1999 and began working as a full-time football coach in 2000 when Fulham hired him to work in their academy.