Must managers have been exceptional footballers to succeed in their coaching careers? Everything suggests that this is not a prerequisite. But there are many top footballers who have become exceptional managers.
Zinedine Zidane who was a phenomenal footballer enjoyed immense success as a manager. He is perhaps the most prominent player-turned-manager in the world today. Unfortunately, he is not in charge of a team at the moment.
Today we focus on former players who currently lead a team. Many modern day big names have taken up coaching lately.
Without further ado, let’s rank the top five managers in world football today based on their level of play.
#5 Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard finally seems to have reached a milestone in his managerial career at Everton. The former Chelsea midfielder is a Premier League legend and one of the best scoring midfielders of all time.
Lampard has a blistering right-footed strike and has scored 41 goals from outside the box in the Premier League, the most in the competition. He was named Premier League Player of the Decade from 2001 to 2010.
Lampard shone as a tenacious box-to-box midfielder and was one of the key figures in Chelsea’s rise to the top of European football in the 21st century. The Englishman enjoyed an illustrious national career.
He won three Premier League titles, one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Europa League, four FA Cups and two League Cups during his domestic career.
#4 Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard is one of the best midfielders of the modern era. The Liverpool legend has never won a Premier League title but that’s not an accurate reflection of his abilities.
Gerrard led Liverpool to Champions League victory in the 2004-2005 season, achieving a glorious comeback against AC Milan in Istanbul in the final after trailing 3-0 at half-time. He excelled as a box-to-box midfielder and very often as a supporting striker and had wonderful shooting distance.
It was nearly impossible to counter Gerrard as soon as he put his shoelaces in the ball. Gerrard was not far from being a complete midfielder. Since retiring he has thrown himself into coaching and has done a spectacular job with Rangers in the Scottish Premier League.
Gerrard won the Scottish Premiership in the 2020-21 season with Rangers but left them midway through the 2021-22 campaign to take charge of Aston Villa. The Liverpool legend has won a Champions League, two FA Cups, three League Cups, a UEFA Cup and a UEFA Super Cup.
#3 Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney is one of the great names in modern football. Combining grit, street smarts and an astonishing level of technical skill, Rooney has become one of the most dynamic forwards of the 21st century.
Rooney’s versatility allowed him to play anywhere on the front line and he possessed an incredible ability to find the back of the net from anywhere on the pitch. He was also a hard worker and could always be counted on to go the extra mile for his team.
Rooney is Manchester United’s all-time leading goalscorer, having found the back of the net 253 times for the side. He’s also England’s all-time top scorer, but it’s likely he’ll soon be overtaken by Harry Kane (he’s at 51).
Rooney is one of the most decorated Premier League players of all time. He won five Premier League titles, a UEFA Champions League title, three League Cups, an FA Cup, a Europa League title and a FIFA World Cup with United. Rooney currently manages MLS club DC United.
#2 Andrea Pirlo
Andrea Pirlo had a rather high-profile start to his coaching career. The first senior team he coached was Juventus but it ended rather disappointingly as he was fired at the end of his debut season.
Pirlo is currently the coach of Turkish Super Lig club Fatih Karagumruk. If Pirlo manages to impart all his footballing knowledge to his players, he could have a great coaching career. As a footballer, Pirlo was simply outstanding.
He is one of the greatest deep playmakers of all time. Pirlo moved around the football pitch with great nonchalance and appeared to dominate midfield battles. The Italian midfielder has enjoyed an illustrious career, both at club and national level.
He won two Serie A titles, two UEFA Champions Leagues, a FIFA World Cup and an Italian Cup with AC Milan. The Italian legend then joined Juventus, where he became an integral part of the team that dominated Serie A for several years.
Pirlo won the Scudetto four times with the Bianconeri and also won the Coppa Italia once. He also played a leading role in Italy’s triumph at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
#1 Xavi Hernández
The undisputed king of player-turned-managers, Xavi is unquestionably one of the greatest players of all time. Rarely has a player mesmerized fans with his elegance and vision throughout his career as the current FC Barcelona manager has.
Xavi was nothing short of phenomenal in the midfield for FC Barcelona and Spain, where he won numerous club and national trophies during his prime years. He was a crucial member of the Spanish national team which won the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the European Championship in 2008 and 2012.
Xavi is one of the most technically gifted footballers of all time. His footballing intelligence is unmatched which helped him become a top manager quite early in his career.
Xavi has won a total of eight La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues, three Copa del Reys, five Supercopa de Espana and two Club World Cups with FC Barcelona.