From Pitch To Dugout To Pitch Again: Football’s Most Memorable Player-Managers
September 04, 2015
When it was announced that Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua had appointed former Arsenal, Real Madrid and Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka as player manager back in 2012, jaws dropped throughout the footballing world. The sulky and often unpredictable Anelka was hardly renowned for being a team-player, and the idea of him combining playing and management duties seems far-fetched in the extreme.
There have been other examples of memorable player-managers in the history of football, and while some have achieved considerable success others have struggled to cope with the added burden. We take a look at some of the most memorable player-managers in the British game…
Ruud Gullit (Chelsea)
Dutch legend Ruud Gullit was lacking in pace and approaching the end of his career when he joined Chelsea in 1995, so boss Glenn Hoddle looked to negate these issues by deploying him largely as a sweeper. He displayed immense quality and leadership in this role, as he did when he stepped into midfield on occasions. When Hoddle left the club to manage England, Gullit stepped into his shoes and managed to win the FA Cup during his first year in charge.
Contractual disputes and a fall-out with then-chairman Ken Bates hastened the Dutchman’s departure, with the man himself now a popular pundit with Sky Sports.
Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool)
Undoubtedly the most successful and memorable player-manager of all time, Kenny Dalglish assumed control of Liverpool in 1985 while still leading the reds’ frontline. He went on to win three league titles, two FA Cups, and a League Cup in the next five years, before eventually hanging up his own boots in the summer of 1990.
The tragedy of the Hillsborough disaster and the media attention associated with this took its toll on Dalglish, however, and his tenure as manager came to an abrupt end just a year later.
Attilio Lombardo (Crystal Palace)
Heads were turned and eyebrows raised when the former Champions League winner joined struggling Crystal Palace from Juventus in 1997. Not only did he become Palace’s great hope and star player but he also became the main man off the field in 1998 after Steve Coppell moved upstairs to become the club’s Director of Football.
His tenure as player-manager was not a genuine success however, as Palace eventually failed to retain their Premier League status and Lombardo soon returned to his Italian roots.