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Xavi Hernández, former player and current Barcelona coach
Xavi Hernández, the last in a long list of managers who also shone bright as footballers. Photo: @FCBarcelona_es

Top five soccer coaches who were players

It is increasingly common to see former footballers in different leagues around the world who, after playing professionally, become managers.

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With the arrival of Xavi Hernández as manager of the team he loves, FC Barcelona, AL DÍA has compiled a list of professional soccer players who have made the leap from the field to sideline as a coach in the last 20 years.

The trend, which is getting stronger every day thanks to the incredible results that some of the examples on our list have achieved, seems to be liked by team owners, fans, and members of the sports press, who also hire them as commentators or reporters following their careers.

These are some of the managers of the present time who have known how to stand out after hanging up their football boots. Although they have not been successful every time, there are several who are currently on the list of the best in the world in their profession.

Pep Guardiola

The Spanish coach, who led the golden generation of Barcelona and introduced many to the best version of Lionel Messi, is undoubtedly one of the greatest ex-footballers that became respected managers. Today, he commands the ranks of Manchester City, a team that has become powerful in the United Kingdom, but still has yet to achieve European glory in the Champions League.

Zinedine Zidane

Zidane is a three-time winner of the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid as a manger. It's also a team he led to European glory as a player. The extraordinary French creative midfielder also led his country to conquer the FIFA World Cup in 1998, and is a benchmark of success and effectiveness on the world football scene, becoming the only coach to reach the top European crown on three consecutive occasions.

Diego Simeone

Today, the brave midfielder of the Argentine national team and historic player for Atlético de Madrid one of the most respected coaches in the Spanish La Liga and in world football.

Simeone managed to put the "colchoneros" on the map of as a main team in Europe that, until his arrival, was satisfied appearing in the middle of the table and was not considered a strong contender in any international competitions. A finalist in the Champions League and winner of the “league of the stars,” Simeone is a coach who always appears on the list of favorites to lead his national team.

Andriy Shevchenko

The historic scorer for Milan and the Ukrainian soccer team became his country's national team coach, and has led a new breed of talents that dream of conquering Europe, just as his coach did decades ago. He recently returned to Italian Serie A, this time as the manager of Genova — a team he hopes to take to international tournaments.

Ryan Giggs

The eternal and iconic Welsh wing from Manchester United led by the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, also decided to continue in the football scene after retiring as a professional player and until recently, was head coach of his country's national team. As a curious case, one that differentiates him from other members of this list, in 2014, Giggs was chosen as provisional coach after the removal of the coach on duty while still being an active player and determining his entry into the field of play in which it would be his last match as a professional.

Whether at professional clubs or national teams, many former players continue to draw on decades of experience as footballers to now handle the threads of a new generation that is fortunate and honored to be led by some of the most successful and transcendent footballers in the recent history of the sport. The list is extensive and will continue to grow in the coming years, as the great success achieved by this group of managers will continue to seduce the great teams of the world.

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