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Football managers returning – 4 times it happened

Usually a player returning to a former club is welcomes by all parties as, in most cases, they would only go back if it went well the first time. But when a top football manager returns to his former club it is often considered a risky move.  Here are four example of football managers returning to their former clubs.


Fabio Capello (Real Madrid) – 1996-1997 and 2006-2007

Both Capello’s spells as Real Madrid manager were short but the Italian can still be considered one of Real Madrid’s most successful managers ever. The Italian won the La Liga title in both 1997 and 2007. In 2006, Capello arrived in Madrid to a Real side suffering one of the longest spells without a trophy in their history.

In our first example of football managers returning, the now-retired manager was able to turn around the club during his second stint in Madrid, Capello was never popular with the fans because of a perceived negative style. He was consequently sacked in 2007, despite winning the title.  Capello’s final professional assignment ended in 2018, when he left Chinese club Jiangsu Suning.


Jupp Heynckes (Bayern Munich) – 1987-1991, 2008-09, 2011-13 and 2017-18

Football managers returning is fairly uncommon, unless you’re Jupp Heynckes of course. Heynckes not only returned to Bayern Munich following his first spell in the late 80s but he went on to manage the club four times. Heynckes first took charge of Bayen Munchen in 1987, winning two titles in a row. He returned as a caretaker manager more than 15 years later in 2008-09, but only for five games. A few years later, the German manager came back on a permanent basis and ended up winning the treble of Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League in 2012/13.

In 2017, Heynckes returned to Bayern for a fourth and final time. On the 4th April 2018, Heynckes set a new Champions League record for the most consecutive wins as a manager (12) by defeating Sevilla in the quarter-final 1st leg in the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League, surpassing the joint-record of ten wins in a row set by Louis van Gaal and Carlo Ancelotti. Bayern president Uli Hoeneß wanted him to stay for the 2018–19 season but the now 74-year old chose to retire.


Jose Mourinho (Chelsea) – 2004-2007 and 2013-2015

By many fans, Jose Mourinho is considered as Chelsea’s best ever manager. During his first stay in London, Mourinho didn’t lose a single league match at Stamford Bridge. Going 60 home games without defeat, Chelsea were able to earn back-to-back Premier League titles. They also won the FA Cup and two League Cups. In 2007, Mourinho left as the most successful manager in Chelsea’s history, having won six trophies for the club in three years.

Although football managers returning is rarely a good idea for a top coach, the Chelsea fans welcomed their former manager back with open arms in 2013. After winning more titles with Inter and Real Madrid, Mourinho returned to Chelsea as the “Happy One” instead of the “Special One”. After winning another title in 2015, Mourinho lost the dressing room and Chelsea spiraled out of control, leading to his sacking.


Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid) – 2016-2018 and 2019-Present

Real Madrid did so well during Zidane’s first spell at the club that the Frenchman shocked the world when announcing his decision to stand down as Real Madrid boss in 2018 after winning a third successive Champions League title. On the 31st of May, just five days after the Champions League final, Zidane announced his resignation, citing the club’s “need for change” as his rationale for departing.

They say you should never go back to your former club but, as this list shows, football managers returning does happen. Indeed, Zidane agreed to return to the Bernabeu for a second spell after both Julen Lopetegui and Santi Solari were disasters. The now 47-year football manager returned to Madrid on the 11th of March following some poor results for Real Madrid in the months following Zidane’s departure. Real Madrid are currently in first place in La Liga and are playing Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League round of 16, although they trail after the first leg.



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