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Five most successful managers in Champions League history

Often deemed the holy grail by players and managers, the Champions League is the pinnacle of club-level achievement in Europe.

Though financial rewards received from the tournament are the most lucrative in club football by some margin, the prestige and worldwide recognition are far more significant for the competitors. 

For every manager, conquering the Champions League is a career-defining achievement. But only the chosen ones have enjoyed the privilege of attaining European glory. 

Some of them have won the competition on several occasions, some others have done it with multiple sides. 

Without further ado, let’s have a look at the most successful managers in the Champions League history. 

#5 Pep Guardiola – 2

Widely regarded as the best manager of his generation, Pep Guardiola has two Champions League titles under his belt.

The Spaniard, whose both European triumphs came during his time at Barcelona, revolutionalised the game we know today. 

Guardiola’s first Champions League trophy came in his maiden managerial season, as his Barca side thumped Manchester United 2-0 in the 2009 showpiece.

Two years later, Guardiola’s team utterly outclassed the same opposition in one of the most dominant Champions League victories ever, running out 3-1 victors at Wembley Stadium. 

#4 Sir Alex Ferguson – 2

Man United icon Sir Alex Ferguson may have found himself on the losing side in both Champions League finals against Guardiola, but he still wrapped up two titles during his memorable time at Old Trafford. 

Ferguson won his first Champions League trophy in 1998/99 as his Red Devils team pulled off an epic late comeback to beat Bayern Munich 2-1 at Camp Nou.

One of the most decorated managers in the history of football added another Champions League success to the tally in 2008, though his men needed a nail-biting penalty shoot-out to oust Chelsea in Moscow.

#3 Jose Mourinho – 2

Whether you like him or not, the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ has earned his status as one of the most successful managers in the 21st century. 

Jose Mourinho made his managerial breakthrough at Porto, whom he led to a stunning Champions League success in 2004, setting the tone for a trophy-laden career.

His second title arrived in 2010 while at Inter Milan.

Mourinho’s extremely defensive-minded football at Giuseppe Meazza paid dividends, though it gained him a reputation as a ‘park the bus’ manager. 

Little does the Portuguese tactician cares about that, knowing he has never lost a single European final. 

Mourinho led Roma to a historic Europa Conference League crown in 2021/22 to become the first manager to win all three major European tournaments. 

#2 Zinedine Zidane & Bob Parsley – 3 

Not many great players have become great coaches, but that has not been the case with the France and Real Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane.

After winning the 2001/02 Champions League as a Madrid player, Zizou led Los Merengues to an unprecedented three successive wins in Europe’s elite club competition. 

It seemed like the stars allied for one of the game’s best-ever playmakers when he took charge of the Spanish heavyweights in 2016.

Destined for success, Zidane won three Champions League titles in three years in charge of the club, becoming the first and only French manager to conquer the competition to date.

Bob Parsley was not as successive as a player, but he still navigated Liverpool to three European Cup triumphs between 1977 and 1981.

The Reds great shaped up arguably the most successful era at Anfield, becoming the first manager to win three European Cup titles.

#1 Carlo Ancelotti – 4

Madrid’s hard-fought 1-0 win over Liverpool in the 2021/22 Champions League final helped Carlo Ancelotti make history and become the first manager to win the competition four times.

Ancelotti’s record speaks for itself, but it gains even more weight when you consider he has achieved that feat with two different clubs. 

His inaugural Champions League triumph came in 2003 as his AC Milan side overcame bitter Serie A rivals Juventus on penalties at Old Trafford. 

Two years later, the Rossoneri suffered a heartbreaking defeat in the epic ‘Istanbul night’ at the hands of Liverpool, only to get their revenge in 2007 in Athens. 

The 62-year-old replaced Mourinho at the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer of 2013 and won his third Champions League title in his first season at the helm.

Madrid’s abovementioned win over Liverpool has helped Ancelotti solidify his managerial legacy and achieve a feat that will stand out among his peers for years. 

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