Top 5 Ballon d’Or winners turned managers

So far, 26 different players have won the Ballon d’Or and three of them are still playing. 14 of the remaining 23 players have gone on to manage a football team and some of them have gone on to win the biggest trophies in football. So, here are the top 5 managers who also won the Ballon d’Or. 

#5. Marco van Basten

The three-time Ballon d’Or winner, Marco van Basten, retired in 1995 and said that he would never go into management. However, he changed his mind and started out as an assistant to his former teammate John van ‘t Schip with Jong Ajax in 2003/04. Despite his inexperience as a manager, in July 2004, Van Basten was named the manager of the Netherlands team with Van ‘t Schip as his assistant. 

Under his stewardship, the Dutch qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cup while going unbeaten However, at the main event, his team lost 1-0 to Portugal in the infamous Round of 16 match in which the referee brandished 16 yellow cards and four red cards (2 apiece). 

He stepped down from the national team after Euro 2008 with a 67.31 win percentage and decided to take the job at Ajax despite the KNVB’s desire to extend his contract. At the Euro, his side beat Italy 3-0, France 4-1 and Romania 2-0 in the group stage only to lose to Russia in extra time in the quarterfinal. 

Van Basten’s Ajax could only finish third in 2008/09 and he subsequently resigned to become a pundit. He returned to management three years later with Heerenveen where a certain Hakim Ziyech broke into the first team under him. After two seasons with Heerenveen, he joined AZ but in September 2014, he relinquished his role citing stress of the job and he hasn’t managed since. 

#4. Alfredo Di Stefano

The Real Madrid legend is often revered for his playing career with Real Madrid during which he won five European Cups and won the Ballon d’Or in 1957 and 1959. However, he also had a good managerial career which started with Elche. 

Di Stefano returned to Argentina, his country of birth, in 1969 as the manager of Boca Juniors and led them to a league title before taking over as the manager of Valencia a year later. He won the La Liga and Copa del Rey with them in a four-year stint before going on to manage Sporting CP, Rayo Vallecano, Castellon, Valencia and River Plate in the next eight years. In his second stint with Valencia, he won the European Cup Winners’ Cup. 

In 1982, Di Stefano returned to Real Madrid as their manager and in his first season as manager, they lost the finals of Supercopa de España, Copa de la Liga, Copa del Rey and the European Cup Winners’ Cup. 

He returned to Boca Juniors in 1985 before joining Valencia once again and this time, he helped them earn promotion to the La Liga. In 1990, he took up his final managerial job with Real Madrid and won the Supercopa de España but did not return to management after that season. 

#3. Franz Beckenbauer

Franz Beckenbauer is another man whose playing career overshadowed his brilliance as a manager. In addition to his two Ballon d’Or coups, he won sixteen major trophies including a FIFA World Cup, Euro and a hat-trick of European Cups. 

In 1984, shortly after he retired, he was named the manager of the West German national team and his team reached the final of the 1986 FIFA World Cup which they lost to Argentina. However, four years later, his side got their revenge with a 1-0 victory. 

After his World Cup triumph, he ventured into club management with Marseille but despite winning 16 out of 25 games, the club’s owner, Bernard Tapie, moved Beckenbauer to a sporting director role. Including Beckenbauer, the French club had three managers that season but still went on to win the Ligue 1 and reached the final of the European Cup. 

After leaving Marseille, the Der Kaiser had two brief stints with Bayern Munich during which he won the Bundesliga title in 1994 and the UEFA Cup in 1996. He hasn’t managed any team since but was at Bayern from 1994 to 2009 as their club President. 

#2. Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane is the only player in this list who has won the Ballon d’Or only once. The Frenchman started his managerial career as an assistant to Carlo Ancelotti before taking over the Castilla side in 2014. In January 2016, he replaced Rafael Benitez as the Real Madrid manager and what followed is the stuff of fairytales. 

Zidane’s Real won the Champions League final in 2014 by beating city rivals Atletico Madrid and the following season, he did the league and Champions League double. In the process, Real became the first team to successfully defend the European title in the Champions League era. By the end of the 2017/18 season, Zidane’s trophy count as manager rose to nine in only two and a half seasons. However, shortly after winning his third consecutive Champions League title, he resigned only to return nine months later to take the reins of a team in tatters. 

Zidane has made some big signings this summer to compete with Barcelona and only time will tell if he can replicate the success of his first tenure. 

#1. Johan Cruyff

Despite Zidane’s incredible trophy count in a short span of time, he loses out on the top spot to the three-time Ballon d’Or winner Johan Cruyff. 

Cruyff has one of the biggest legacies in football both as a player and as a manager. He is often seen as a revolutionary figure in the history of Ajax, Barcelona and the Netherlands football team and the two clubs have developed youth academies based on his coaching methods. His style of play as a manager has influenced all-time great managers like Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Pep Guardiola, Arrigo Sacchi and Frank Rijkaard among others. 

He started his managerial career with Ajax and was there for three seasons during which his side won three trophies and had a win percentage of 73.5! In 1988, he joined Barcelona and spent eight seasons as the club’s manager winning 11 trophies including the club’s first European Cup. After leaving Barcelona, he vowed to not manage again because of heart troubles but he returned 13 years later for the non-affiliated Catalonia team and he managed them in four games before leaving in 2013. 

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