Lampard to Chelsea: Returning heroes - the hits and misses

Oleh Omnisport 25 Jun 2019 13
Lampard to Chelsea: Returning heroes - the hits and misses

Frank Lampard will be the latest man to return to a club where he starred as a player if he agrees to replace Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea.

Derby County on Tuesday gave the Blues permission to speak to their former midfielder about the vacancy created by Sarri's departure for Juventus and the 41-year-old is expected to make an emotional return to Stamford Bridge, where he spent 13 years as a player.

Lampard scored 211 goals in his Chelsea career, setting a club record, and if he re-signs will be tasked with reviving the enthusiasm of supporters who struggled to warm to Sarri during a season of mixed fortunes.

Chelsea reached the EFL Cup final and won the Europa League in 2018-19, but fans voiced their dismay after results like the 6-0 hammering at Manchester City in February and a 4-0 reverse at Bournemouth in January.

As Lampard weighs up the possibility of turning his back on Derby, who he led to the Championship play-off final in his first season in charge, we take a look at nine other examples of players returning to manage teams they played for and their varying levels of success.


Pep Guardiola

After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as 'B' Team manager in 2007 before being promoted to the coach of the senior side a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola's way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Zinedine Zidane

World Cup-winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping away last May, only to return 10 months later. Time will tell if that was a wise move, however.

Antonio Conte

In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Under Conte Juve won three Serie A titles in a row – the start of their current dominance – before he accepted the Italy job.

Roberto Di Matteo

Like Solskjaer, Di Matteo accepted a caretaker role with former club Chelsea in 2012, although he had previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich.


Alan Shearer

Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer's playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006 Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try and save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was not successful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.

Filippo Inzaghi

Employing former players as managers had previously worked well for AC Milan over the years – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. So, when the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf's brief tenure, the move was no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league finish in 17 years.

Thierry Henry

Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez's assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.

Juan Jose Lopez

One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles and playing 466 times in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing them into a 'Promocion' play-off against second-tier Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. That brought about an historical first relegation for River, sparking riots which left many people injured.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Manchester United appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on a three-year contract after the former striker made a remarkable impact in an interim role. Solskjaer turned around a poor start to the season under Jose Mourinho and made the Red Devils top four contenders as they went undefeated in his first 11 games in charge but they ended 2018-19 in a slump, winning just two of their last 12 games in all competitions and finishing sixth in the Premier League. Should he continue in a similar vein next season, he will not last long at Old Trafford.

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