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10 coaches who never played professional football

Roy Hodgson during his time as Watford’s head coach watches the Premier League match, Manchester United vs Watford at Old Trafford, Manchester. February 26, 2022. Photo: sportsbrief.com

Most sports enthusiast has always had the assumption that for a coach to successfully led a team to victory, they have to be a good player this is because they felt you had to have stuck your hand in the dirt to understand what you’re seeing when you watch others do it.

That assumption indeed doesn’t hold water as the sport has recorded not just one or two, but a number of the coaches who never played professional football, yet led their teams to victory.

Arrigo Sacchi

Arrigo Sacchi has enjoyed unquestionable fame as one of the most outstanding managers who was never a professional footballer.

Sacchi at Festival dello Sport at Teatro Strehler in Milan, Italy. Photo: Eurosport

Sacchi’s coaching career was birthed at a modest Italian club, Fusignano in 1976.

Baracca Lugo, the very team Sacchi was unable to get a spot to play for in his teenage, he eventually headed as a coach.

During his first season, Parma was able to gain promotion to Serie A. Sacchi defeated A.C. Milan in the first round of Coppa Italia, this was a huge success accredited to his time with the club.

Sacchi secured a coaching role at Serie A giants AC Milan despite controversy on his credibility to coach the club as someone who only played the game at an amateur level.

He enjoyed many successful years seeing the Rosseniri winning a Scudetto title (1987-1988) and two European Cups (1988-1989, 1989-1990). Sacchi later managed the Italian national team, guiding them to the World Cup final in USA 1994.

Carlos Alberto Parreira
Photo: terra.com

The “World Cup-winning coach”, prior to the wins started out as a fitness coach but holds a record as the manager with the highest appearance at FIFA World Cup final tournaments.

Explaining his career in coaching, he said, “there came the point in my life when I was so well qualified that I was almost pushed into taking on the role of head coach. They asked me to take charge of their youth sides in Kuwait, and that was the start of a long career”.

This career has eventually yielded six World Cups, including Brazil’s triumph in 1994.

Parreira has led five national teams to the World Cup: Kuwait in 1982, United Arab Emirates in 1990, Brazil in 1994 and 2006, Saudi Arabia in 1998, and South Africa in 2010.

Brazil gained its victories with Parreira 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.

Avram Grant
Avram Grant. Photo: allfootballapp.com

At 18 years, the Israeli began his professional career in coaching and is one of the football managers who started early.

He successfully led Hapoel Petah Tikva to two Toto Cup victories in 1990 and 1991, making the club top Israeli football for the first time in almost 25 years.

He is most famous for handling Chelsea FC during the 2007-2008 season following the unexpected departure of coach Jose Mourinho, though he was not a popular choice among fans.

Grant lead Chelsea to a second-place victory in the English Premier League against Manchester United. Again, but with an impressive game, Avram led Chelsea to the UEFA Champions League final, where they once more lost to Manchester United.

Grant later on managed several other club sides and even the Ghanaian national team.

Bill Stuth
A bronze statue of Bill Stuth at Ibrox Stadium. Photo: sportsbrief.com

Bill Struth was an outstanding Rangers manager.

A sprinter and a stonemason by trade, Stuth eventually took over as manager of Rangers in 1920, transforming the club into Scotland’s dominant force, winning 18 League titles, 10 Scottish Cups, and 2 League Cups while his 34-year lasted at Ibrox.

Struth was only the second manager of the Rangers and the first Scottish manager to win the treble. The gentleman was able to win 14 Scottish titles in 19 years, and for the first time in Rangers history in 1928, the club lifted the premier domestic knockout trophy.

He has been honoured with a bronze statue at Ibrox Stadium to commemorate his achievements.

Andre Villas-Boas
Andre Villas-Boas. Photo: sportsbrief.com

While working under Robson at Porto as a teenager, Villa-Boas honed his potential as a coach.

He served as assistant to Jose Mourinho before becoming manager of Liga side Academica at 32.

The Portuguese tactician moved to Chelsea and won the League and Cup double and the Europa League.

Villa-Boas joined Tottenham Hotspur in 2012, and on December 16, 2013, the club announced that he had left “by mutual consent.”

As of the time of his retirement, he had the highest percentage of league wins of all the managers in the club’s Premier League history.

Villas-Boas coached Zenit St Petersburg for two seasons before moving on to the Chinese club Shanghai SIPG.

Brian Kerr
Photo: thesun.ie

At 13 Kerr began a coaching career, managing the Crumlin United under-11 team, when he was 21, he became coach of the Shamrock Rovers B team.

Climbing through his coaching career, he became manager of the top-flight league of Ireland club, St Patricks’.

Kerr won the title twice before his appointment as technical director of the Football Association of Ireland in 1996. He coached the national team’s under-20 to victory.

The Irish football coach was appointed manager of Ireland’s national team in 2003 and the Faroe Islands between 2009 and 2011.

Guy Roux
Photo: europe1.fr

Another gentleman in the noble sports is Guy Roux, who left the coaching career in 2005 after 44 intriguing years at Auxerre.

At 23, Roux was appointed coach of Auxerre despite only playing for the club as an amateur at that time.

He was the inspiration to legends like Eric Cantona, Laurent Blanc, Djibril Cisse, and Philippe Mexes, who all began their careers at this club during his time.

Roux won the league, the Coupe de France four times, and the Intertoto Cup and reached the UEFA Cup semifinals in 1993.

Gerard Houllier
Photo: liverpoolecho.co.uk

Gerard Houllier arrived Anfield in 1998 to become a fantastic force at Liverpool taking the Reds to a cup treble in 2000/01 and reclaiming the League Cup two years later.

The French 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.

Roy Hodgson

As a young player for Crystal Palace, Hodgson was never selected for the first team, he then began training and became a fully fleged manager at the age of 23.

Later, he served as an assistant manager to Bob Houghton’s at Maidstone United.

He would afterwards go on to be coach at Fulham, Liverpool, and West Bromwich Albion and the national teams in; Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Finland, and England as the most recent.

His most remarkable success as a Premier League coach was during his time at Fulham, where he rescued the club from relegation in 2008, then taking them to the Europa League final in 2010.

Paul Clement

Clement has managed Derby County, Swansea City, and Reading and coaching positions at Fulham, Blackburn Rovers, and the England and Republic of Ireland under-21 teams.

He began coaching at the age of 23 and also worked as a Physical Education teacher at the Chelsea Centre of Excellence.

Clement, 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.

Writing by Muzha Kucha; Editing by Julian Osamoto