From a World Cup winner, to a Barcelona legend… to someone who played for Sussex County side Southwick FC! The playing careers of the 24 managers at Euro 2024 before they swapped the pitch for the dugout

Euro 2024 is just around the corner, and while the cream of Europe’s top stars head into the tournament looking to make their mark, but here’s plenty that already have among the coaching staff in their playing careers. 

The finals can boast World Cup winners, iconic European names and cult heroes among the managerial faces who will be leading their teams in Germany. 

However, there are some with only very minor playing experience and have found coaching their calling card onto the big stage.

Going to prove what a different type of job international management can be.  

Mail Sport gives you the group-by-group rundown on the former players managing at Euro 2024. 

Gareth Southgate is one of a number of managers at Euro 2024 who excelled as a player

Gareth Southgate is one of a number of managers at Euro 2024 who excelled as a player 

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Group A 

Germany – Julian Nagelsmann

We’ll never know what type of player the German boss may have been, because he was robbed of a playing career with a serious knee injury at the age of 20. 

He had previously been captain of 1860’s Munich’s youth team but that was as good as it got for Nagelsmann before being forced to turn to coaching. 

Scotland – Steve Clarke 

Clarke signed for Chelsea in 1987 from St Mirren and went on to play 421 times for the club in an 11-year spell. 

He enjoyed most his success at the back-end of his career, winning the FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winners Cup as he successfully bridged the gap between the Chelsea of old and the change at the club that came with the mid-90s arrival of Glenn Hoddle and Ruud Gullit. 

Capped six times for Scotland before becoming a coach at Stamford Bridge then moving into management. 

Hungary – Marco Rossi

As a defender, Rossi once hit the highs of playing alongside Gullit, Roberto Mancini and David Platt during a spell with Sampdoria during everyone’s favourite Serie A decade. 

He also enjoyed stints in Germany with Eintracht Frankfurt and Club America in Mexico, among others.

Switzerland – Murat Yakin

Alongside his brother, Hakan, the Yakins are seen as two of Switzerland’s best players of their generation. 

The current national team boss was a defender who won league titles with Grasshoppers before playing in Germany and Turkey. 

He won 49 caps for his country and played every minute for the Swiss at Euro 2004.

Along with his brother, Murat Yakin was a big part of the Swiss national team in the 2000s

Along with his brother, Murat Yakin was a big part of the Swiss national team in the 2000s 

 

Group B

Spain – Luis de la Fuente

De La Fuente graduated out of Atletico Bilbao’s youth system to play in the club’s glory years of the early 80s. 

As Bilbao’s left-back, he won back-to-back league titles and a league and cup double during six successful years. 

He also turned out for Sevilla and Alaves before eventually returning to his hometown club as manager. 

Italy – Luciano Spalletti

The man who finally brought the Serie A title back to Napoli in 2023, but as a player, Spalletti only ever played at a third tier level in Serie C. 

Turning out for Entella, Spezia, Viareggio and Empoli before retiring in 1993 and embarking on a successful managerial career with some of Italy’s biggest clubs. 

Croatia – Zlatko Dalic

A defensive midfielder who spent his whole career in his homeland for a number of clubs after failing to make the grade at Hajduk Split. 

Of his nearly 300 senior appearances, most came with the now-defunct Varkeks, where he would later begin his managerial career. 

Albania –  Sylvinho 

He became the first Brazilian to play for Arsenal in 1999, bridging the left-back gap between Nigel Winterburn and Ashley Cole during a brief stay in north London – where he was included in the PFA Team of the Year in 2000. 

Moved on to Barcelona after that and won every major honour with the Spanish giants, including two Champions Leagues and three LaLiga titles. 

He also won six caps for Brazil and spent a minute at Manchester City before moving into coaching. 

Albania will be coached by the familiar face of Sylvinho who served Arsenal and Barcelona

Albania will be coached by the familiar face of Sylvinho who served Arsenal and Barcelona 

 

Group C 

England – Gareth Southgate 

Cruelly best remembered for his ill-fated penalty miss against Germany at Euro 96 – and the infamous Pizza Hut advert that followed, it should be highlighted what a very good player Southgate was. 

The dependable defender represented Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough admirably and was the first captain to lift a major trophy for Boro when they won the League Cup in 2004. 

He won 57 caps for his country and appeared in three major tournaments. 

Gareth Southgate was so much more as a player than the miss that he's often remembered for

Gareth Southgate was so much more as a player than the miss that he’s often remembered for 

Denmark – Kasper Hjulmand

Hjulmand’s playing career only lasted until he was 26 after a knee injury forced the defender into retiring and he moved into management.

His career included spells at several lower-league Danish sides before a successful stint in the US with North Florida Ospreys. 

Serbia – Dragan Stojkovic

Part of the the gifted Yugoslavia generation of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Stojkovic is seen as one of greatest players the area has ever produced. 

The maverick midfielder is a hero at Red Star Belgrade – where he won two league titles – and enjoyed a success in Japan with Grampus Eight as well as a Ligue 1 championship win at Marseille. 

He won 84 caps for his country, and played in two World cups, captaining the side at France 98.  

Dragan Stojkovic was one of the most talented Yugoslavian players of his generation

Dragan Stojkovic was one of the most talented Yugoslavian players of his generation 

Slovenia – Matjaz Kek

A three-time league winner in Slovenia with Maribor, Kek spent most of his playing days as a defender with the country’s biggest club, either side of a brief stint in the Austrian Bundesliga.

The defender won one cap for his country before moving into management with Maribor in 2000. 

 

Group D

France – Didier Deschamps 

Easily the most accomplished former player coaching in Germany, after starring for France as the captain during one of their golden eras.

The midfielder, affectionally known as the ‘water carrier’ was the first man to lift the World Cup for his country in 1998 and then followed that up by winning Euro 2000. 

He won league titles and the Champions League with both Marseille and Juventus before a pit stop at Chelsea in 1999, where he picked up an FA Cup medal to add to his collection. Now in his 12th year as national team boss.

As captain Didier Deschamps led France to winning the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000

As captain Didier Deschamps led France to winning the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 

Netherlands – Ronald Koeman 

England fans may never have forgiven the Dutchman for his role in their failure to qualify for the 1994 World Cup, but it doesn’t take away from Koeman being one of the finest footballers of his generation.

He was a Euros winner with the Netherlands at the Euros in 1988, and a two-time Dutch footballer of the year in an era that included greats such as Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkjaard.

The current Dutch boss won eight league titles in spells with Ajax and Barcelona and memorably scored the winning goal at Wembley in 1992 to seal Barca’s first-ever European Cup. And, quite remarkably, for a player who spent most of his career as a defender, scored 239 goals throughout his career. 

Ronald Koeman became a Barcelona legend after scoring the winning goal in the 1992 European Cup Final at Wembley.

Ronald Koeman became a Barcelona legend after scoring the winning goal in the 1992 European Cup Final at Wembley. 

Austria – Ralf Rangnick 

The former Manchester United boss had a relatively short playing career as a defensive midfielder – complete with haircut and facial hair to match the late ’70s, early 80s era he played in – before moving into coaching by the time he turned 30. 

Rangnick turned out for a trio of German sides and, bizarrely, Sussex County side Southwick FC while he was studying at the University. 

Poland – Michal Probierz

The Polish boss enjoyed a solid if unspectacular career as a midfielder in his homeland, most notably for Grrnik Zabrze as well five other sides. 

His coaching career has since him follow the same path, serving nine clubs before being appointed manager of the national team in 2023. 

 

Group E

Belgium – Domenico Tedesco

Tedesco goes into the finals with easily the least playing experience of any coach at the tournament.

Born in Italy, the Belgium boss was raised in Germany and turned out for eighth-tier ASV Aichwald before turning his hand to coaching by working in the youth department at Stuttgart when he was just 23. 

Slovakia – Francesco Calzona

You can pinpoint Calzona’s playing career to just three appearances for Serie B side Arezzo in the 1980s before he disappeared from the professional game to become a coffee dealer.

The Italian resurfaced in the later 2000s with a series of assistant manager posts in Serie A before landing the Slovakia job.

Romania – Edward Iordanescu

Unlike his father, Anghel, a legendary striker for Steaua Bucharest, the junior Iordanescu failed to make a significant impact as a player. 

He left the famous Romanian club having hardly played a game for them to become a journeyman midfielder around his homeland before going back to Steua to begin his coaching career in 2010. 

Ukraine  – Serhiy Rebrov

A Tottenham cult hero, Rebrov came to the footballing world’s attention as one-half of Dynamo Kyiv’s deadly strike partnership alongside Andriy Shevchenko. 

Together, they won nine league titles in Ukraine, and Rebrov remains the second-highest scorer in the league’s history. 

His £11m move to White Hart Lane proved to be less prolific, with just 16 goals in 75 games, and later went to also play for West Ham in the Premier League. 

Rebrov became a cult hero at Spurs despite not being able to replicate his goal-scoring exploits in Ukraine

Rebrov became a cult hero at Spurs despite not being able to replicate his goal-scoring exploits in Ukraine 

 

Group F

Portugal – Roberto Martinez 

Memorably swapped fourth-tier Spanish club Balaguer to play at the same level with Wigan Athletic in 1995, where he became a cult hero at the club. 

Martinez played 227 times for Lactics and helped them to promotion before achieving the same feats with Swansea City. 

Made his name in management with both clubs, winning the FA Cup with Wigan as a Premier League side in 2013 and then went into international management with Belgium and now Portugal. 

Roberto Martinez is a hero at Wigan as both a player and as a manager with the club

Roberto Martinez is a hero at Wigan as both a player and as a manager with the club 

Georgia – Willy Sagnol

A familiar name for the early 2000s, Will Sagnol followed in Lilian Thruam’s footsteps as France’s right back and went on to win 58 caps for his country, playing every minute at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. 

Germany was where he made his mark at club level too, winning five titles and the Champions League with Bayern Munich. 

The former right-back’s managerial career has been limited to France’s U21 side and a spell in Bordeaux, but he somehow landed the Georgia post in 2021. 

Willy Sangol was a dependable right back for France who won over fifty caps for his country

Willy Sangol was a dependable right back for France who won over fifty caps for his country 

Turkey – Vincenzo Montella

A striker fans of a certain vintage would have seen strutting his stuff on Channel 4, Montella is revered at Roma, where he scored over 100 goals during a decade in the Italian capital, and was part of the side that won their last Scudetto in 2001. 

Won 20 caps for Italy and was part of the squad that reached the final of Euro 2000. 

Vincenzo Montella scored over 100 goals for Roman during a decade with the Italian club

Vincenzo Montella scored over 100 goals for Roman during a decade with the Italian club 

Czechia – Ivan Hasek

The Czech golden generation of the late 1980s and early 1990s was led by this midfielder, who captained his country at Italia 90 and won 53 caps in nine years representing the national team. 

At club level, Hasek won five league titles with Sparta Prague and was named Czech Player of the Year in 1987 and 1988. 

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