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Five unsuccessful professional players who became great managers

Helenio Herrera

Herrera is regarded as one of the greatest exponents of “catenaccio”, the technique that emphasises maintaining a solid shape without the ball in order to limit the opposition any room to manoeuvre and create goalscoring chances. However, there was more to Herrera than just defensive football.

In one of the great managerial evolutions, the Argentine who earned renown for free-flowing football during his time at Barcelona during the late 1950s, completely transformed his style and came to be closely associated with defensive football courtesy of his success with Inter Milan during the 1960s. Herrera didn’t have much of a career as a professional footballer as he changed clubs every year or two, but he found his calling in management.

Stefan Kovacs

The Romanian started his playing career with Timisoara before making his professional football debut with Oradea in 1937. However, he wasn’t as talented as his brother, Nicolae, and never played for the Romania national team unlike his older sibling. Stefan changed several clubs but never found much professional success.

However, he found great renown in management. He won the league title with Steaua Bucharest in 1967 and guided Ajax to back-to-back European Cup wins in 1972 and ’73, also winning the domestic league titles in both the seasons. He later played a decisive role in establishing the French football nursery, Clairforntaine.

Udo Lattek

Lattek was a striker in his playing days, turning out for the likes of Marienheide, Bayer Leverkusen, Wipperfurth and Osnabruck in the German league pyramid. But he was limited in his ability and never made it at the highest level.

In 1965, he became assistant manager for the West Germany national team and assisted the then national team boss Helmut Schon at the 1966 World Cup where the Germans finished runners-up. At the club level, Lattek achieved great success, winning one each of the European Cup, the UEFA Cup, the European Cup Winners’ Cup as well as eight German league titles and three German Cups.

Cesar Luis Menotti

The Argentine got his start as a professional footballer with Rosario Central before moving to Racing Club and then to one of the biggest clubs in Argentine football: Boca Juniors. But he hardly set the league alight with his playing ability.

Menotti, a man with a philosophical bent and a believer in attacking football, achieved his greatest managerial success in 1978 when he guided Argentina to their first ever World Cup.

Jurgen Klopp

The current Liverpool boss’ professional playing career is closely associated with his time at Mainz, where he played for over a decade from 1990 until his retirement from the game in 2001. Klopp was a utility player and most of his time at Mainz was spent slogging in the second division of German football.

Where his playing career had nothing spectacular, Klopp has had a successful managerial career so far. He guided Borussia Dortmund to back-to-back league titles in 2011 and ’12 as well as the 2013 Champions League final.

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