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The unsackables: Europe's longest-serving coaches

Published: Saturday 21 May 2016, 18.30CET
Mircea Lucescu has announced that he is stepping down after 12 years in charge of Shakhtar Donetsk. Impressive, but some way off the longest-serving bosses at club and international level.
by Paul Saffer
The unsackables: Europe's longest-serving coaches
Ronnie McFall took over as Portadown manager in 1986 and only stepped down this year ©Sportsfile

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Published: Saturday 21 May 2016, 18.30CET

The unsackables: Europe's longest-serving coaches

Mircea Lucescu has announced that he is stepping down after 12 years in charge of Shakhtar Donetsk. Impressive, but some way off the longest-serving bosses at club and international level.

Guy Roux (Auxerre 1961–2005)
Though technically he had four different spells with very short breaks in 1962, 2000 and 2001, Roux was actually associated with Auxerre for 53 years, having played for them from 1952 and initially becoming coach while still in the team. An amateur third-level outfit when Roux took over, Auxerre climbed the divisions, reaching the French Cup final in 1979, getting promoted to Ligue 1 in 1980 and then becoming champions in 1996, having previously made the 1992/93 UEFA Cup semi-finals. Helping develop the likes of Eric Cantona, Laurent Blanc and Basile Boli, Roux stepped down aged 66 in 2005, briefly coming out of retirement to coach Lens in 2007.

Key number: Coached in a record 894 Ligue 1 games

Willie Maley (Celtic 1897–1940)
The first recognised manager of Celtic (a club founded in 1887), Maley helped establish the Glaswegians at the top of the game with 16 league titles and 14 Scottish Cups, winning 1,045 of his 1,614 matches in the dugout. He had earlier played for Celtic as well as Third Lanark, Manchester City and Scotland, and was appointed aged 29, lifting the championship in his first season.

Key number: Celtic's 62-game unbeaten run between 13 November 1915 and 21 April 1917 remains a British professional record

©Getty Images

Bill Struth's plaque at Ibrox

Bill Struth (Rangers, 1920–1954)
Struth did not quite match Maley's longevity, but he beat him in terms of honours with 18 league titles. A disciplinarian who was already 45 when appointed, having previously been assistant, he oversaw the first Scottish treble of league, Scottish Cup and League Cup in 1947 and, even after retiring as coach, spent the last two years of his life as vice-chairman of the club.

Key number: In all, Struth won 73 trophies as Rangers manager.

Ronnie McFall (Portadown 1986–2016)
Appointed by Northern Ireland's Portadown in December 1986, a month after Sir Alex Ferguson was installed at Manchester United, McFall eventually surpassed the Scot's Old Trafford reign. Previously a Portadown player and manager of Glentoran from 1979 to 1984, he oversaw the Ports' first league title in 1990, retaining the championship the next term with a domestic double and finishing top again in both 1995/96 and 2001/02. He stepped down in March.

Key number: Managed his 1,000th Portadown league fixture in November 2013.

©Sportsfile

Ignacio Quereda

Ignacio Quereda (Spain women, 1988–2015)
A former Real Madrid trainee, Quereda was appointed by Spain on 1 September 1988 and remained in charge until July last year. He bowed out after coaching at his first Women's World Cup, having also made it to the 1997 UEFA European Women's Championship semi-finals and the last eight in 2013. Quereda led the youth team for a period as well, winning the 2004 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship.

Key number: His first home victory was a 17-0 defeat of Slovenia in 1994 that remains the equal record margin of victory in any UEFA senior competition fixture.

Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United, 1986–2013)
It seems unlikely anyone will again manage one of the continent's leading clubs for a period of more than a quarter of a century. Indeed, such a long stay did not seem likely in the early part of Sir Alex's United reign, despite his previous success with Aberdeen. But his fortunes eventually turned, and his 13 Premier League titles ensured that United overhauled Liverpool as the club with most English championships, having finally ended a 25-year wait to finish top in 1992/93. Now UEFA coaching ambassador, Sir Alex took United's tally of European Cups from one to three.

Key number: United landed 28 of their 42 major trophies during Sir Alex's reign: 13 Premier Leagues, 5 FA Cups, 4 League Cups, 2 UEFA Champions Leagues, 1 European Cup Winners' Cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 1 European/South American Cup, 1 FIFA Club World Cup.

©Sportsfile

Juan Santisteban

Juan Santisteban (Spain youth, 1988–2008)
Compared with others on the list, Santisteban barely got going with a mere 20 years in situ, but he packed plenty into those two decades. Part of the great Real Madrid side of the 1950s and 60s, Santisteban was a youth coach at the club before taking the reins of Spain's U16 team in 1988. There followed European titles at that level in 1991, 1997, 1999, 2001 and, once the competition was reclassified as a U17 tournament, 2007 (when he also stepped in as U19 caretaker and won that EURO too) and 2008, those last triumphs coming with squads not even born when Santisteban was appointed. The highlight was probably the 4-0 final defeat of France in 2008, and after what proved his swansong he said: "I am an old man who's seen a lot of football, and this is the best performance I have witnessed from any youth team."

Key number: No national-team head coach has won more UEFA titles at any level than Santisteban's seven.

Valeriy Lobanovskiy (Dynamo Kyiv 1974–1982, 19841990, 1997–2002)
Lobanovskiy also coached Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, the Soviet Union national team, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Ukraine, but it is with Dynamo that his name is synonymous, and not just because he spent the majority of his playing career there. First taking control in 1974, he won Soviet titles in his first two years, adding the 1975 European Cup Winners' Cup and European Super Cup for good measure. In all, he claimed 13 league championships (including post-independence Ukrainian crowns) for Dynamo, as well as another Cup Winners' Cup in 1986. His revolutionary scientific coaching methods are the stuff of legend. Not long before his untimely death in May 2002, he told UEFA.com: "Everything that does not fit my model of the game is needless."

Key number: In his last stint with Dynamo he won 110 out of 138 league matches, a winning percentage of 79.71%.

©AFP/Getty Images

Francky Dury

Francky Dury (Zultse VV 1990–1993, 1994–2001, Zulte Waregem 2001–2010, 2011–)
His longest single spell may have lasted no longer than nine years, but in effect Dury has topped two decades at the same club. Having coached several lower-division teams, Dury was appointed by Zultse in 1990 and in two separate interludes guided them from regional football to the national leagues. In 2001, they merged with KSV Waregem and the new entity, under Dury's tutelage, were promoted to the second tier in their first term, coming top in 2004/05 to reach the top flight. The next year they picked up the Belgian Cup and in 2006/07 played in the UEFA Cup, advancing to the round of 32 (at which point Dury left his job as a policeman to go full-time as a coach). Dury switched to Gent in 2010, but, with neither he nor his old side proving successful, he rejoined Zulte Waregem in late 2011, after briefly leading Belgium's U21s. Back at the club, he promptly earned a second-place finish and UEFA Champions League qualifying spot in his first full season.

Key number: It took 15 years for Dury to take the club from the regional leagues to Belgian Cup victory.

©Getty Images

Vittorio Pozzo

Vittorio Pozzo (Italy, 1929–48)
Boasting the longest reign of any European men's senior coach, Pozzo – who died in 1968 – worked with Italy at the 1912 and 1924 Olympics before becoming the first Azzurri coach proper in 1929, leading them to glory at the 1934 and 1938 FIFA World Cups as well as 1936 Olympic gold. He was a pioneering tactician whose innovations included the Azzurri's first pre-match training camps. "I want players I can trust so I can work with a group of men who are both physically and mentally strong," he explained.

Key number: The only coach to lift two World Cups (having won two of the first three).

Mickey Evans (Caersws 1983–2007, 2009–)
Evans spent all his playing days with Wrexham during some of their greatest seasons and has shown similar loyalty as a coach. He was 36 when named player-manager by Caersws and remained there until he was 60, in that time taking them to dominance in the Mid-Wales League, securing a place in the Cymru Alliance and then in 1992 being one of the founder members of the League of Wales. Three times they landed the League Cup and they also earned a UEFA Intertoto Cup berth in 2002, Evans's side including son Graham. An oil worker, Evans stepped down in 2007 and began scouting for Wrexham yet was back at Caersws two years later. In 2014 he became director of football, with Graham Evans as manager.

Key number: When Evans stepped down in 2007, he was the last of the original League of Wales managers still in his role after 15 seasons.

Last updated: 21/05/16 19.12CET

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