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The national team coaches who kept coming back

Anghel Iordănescu has returned for a third spell as Romania coach, but as UEFA.com discovers, some bosses have taken the same national-team job four times – and more.

Four-time Netherlands coach Rinus Michels
Four-time Netherlands coach Rinus Michels ©Getty Images

Anghel Iordănescu returned for a third spell as Romania coach ahead of the next round of European Qualifiers, replacing fellow three-timer Victor Pițurcă. However, as UEFA.com discovered, there are plenty of coaches who have taken charge of their national teams four or more times – and one who had ten separate stints.

Loro Boriçi (1957–63, 1965–72, 1976, 1981)
"He lived his life inside a soccer ball," commentator Ismet Bellova recalled of Loro Boriçi, a striker who had four stints as Albania coach. His first game managing the national team was a friendly against China in 1957 when – following injuries to several players – he elected to bring himself on as a substitute fully four years after he had hung up his boots.

During his second tenure, he earned notable draws against Northern Ireland (in 1966 FIFA World Cup qualifying) and West Germany (in 1968 UEFA European Championship qualifying). From 1973 to 1980, Albania played no official matches – save for a 1976 friendly against Algeria, for which Boriçi was appointed coach again. He was called up for a fourth time to lead the side in 1982 World Cup qualification.

Ivan Radoev (1939, 1942, 1947, 1950)
Stoyan Ormandzhiev (1950–53, 1953, 1954–55, 1956–57, 1957–60, 1972, 1974, 1974–75, 1976, 1977)
Hristo Mladenov (1972–73, 1973, 1973–74, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1986–87)
The status of national-team coaches in Bulgarian football up until the 1980s was confusing; with fixtures infrequent, coaches were often changed on a game-by-game basis, with the squad under the overall control of a national-team committee. Tellingly, Ivan Radoev's four reigns encompassed just eight matches. Stoyan Ormandzhiev's ten spells, however, involved a national-record 77 games. Trained in the Soviet Union, Ormandzhiev steered his side to Olympic bronze in Melbourne in 1956. He died, aged 86, in 2006.

The main feature of Hristo Mladenov's seven stints was guiding Bulgaria to the 1974 World Cup finals, though his position on the national-team coaching committee meant he was often detailed to lead Bulgaria for one-off matches.

Karl Gudmundsson
Karl Gudmundsson©KSÍ

Karl Gudmundsson (1954–56, 1959, 1961, 1963–65, 1966)
A sports teacher, Karl Gudmundsson had no access to specialist football training in Iceland so went abroad in search of knowledge in the late 1940s, with his trip taking in Chelsea FC and Arsenal FC as well as a sojourn in Germany. The one-time Fram Rejkyavík defender put what he had learned into practice in a European record five goes as Iceland coach, and he also led Lillestrøm SK and Sandefjord Fotball. He passed away in 2012.

"I think Icelandic football can thank Gudmundsson for his forward-thinking in the development of training," commented Football Association of Iceland (KSÍ) vice-president Gylfi Thór Orrason.

Vittorio Pozzo in 1934
Vittorio Pozzo in 1934©Getty Images

Vittorio Pozzo (1912, 1921, 1924, 1929–48)
A former Grasshopper Club player and one of the founding fathers of Torino FC, Vittorio Pozzo is famed as one of the biggest figures in Italian football history having managed the Azzurri at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm and the 1924 event in Paris.

He had a stint just shy of 20 years as Italy coach from 1929 to 1948, winning the World Cup in 1934 and 1938 as well as Italy's only Olympic footballing gold medal to date, in Berlin in 1936.

"The first step towards victory is admitting defeat," Pozzo once said. A man who knew the importance of learning from your mistakes and coming back stronger.

The Dutch win EURO '88
The Dutch win EURO '88©Getty Images

Rinus Michels (1974, 1984–85, 1986–88, 1990–92)
"I am especially happy that I have been able to help make the Dutch way of playing famous all over the world," recalled 'The General', with discipline and dry humour hallmarks of the late Rinus Michels' coaching style.

The architect of 'Total Football' at AFC Ajax, he took the Johan Cruyff-powered Oranje to the 1974 World Cup final in his first spell and won the 1988 UEFA European Championship in his third, with Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit his star players. It remains the Netherlands' sole major trophy. Michels' side made it to the semi-finals of EURO '92 in his final stint as boss, losing on penalties to eventual victors Denmark.

Emerich Vogl (1943–45, 1947, 1947–1948, 1950–52)
Valentin Stănescu (1964, 1971, 1973–75, 1980–81)
Angelo Niculescu (1967, 1967–71, 1971–72, 1972–73)
"I was a bit worried, because tough measures were taken against people who got bad results," said Angelo Niculescu as he recalled landing the Romania job.

Angelo Niculescu
Angelo Niculescu©Nicolae Profir, Romanian FA

"A 7-1 loss to Switzerland [in 1967] created a lot of problems with the top men in the Communist Party." The most successful of Romania's three four-time coaches, Niculescu steered Romania to the 1970 World Cup and the 1972 UEFA European Championship quarter-finals and is regarded as having invented the style of play now known as 'tiki-taka'.

Romania's captain at the 1930 and 1934 World Cups, Emerich Vogl's four coaching reigns spanned mostly friendly games; he worked as adviser to the Romanian Football Federation (FRF) from 1967 until his death in 1971.

Ex-Romania goalkeeper Valentin Stănescu was a celebrated club manager, but his two longest spells as national coach finished abruptly: after a 4-0 loss to a French Olympic team in 1974, and with failure to reach the 1982 World Cup finals.

Soviet Union
Valeriy Lobanovskiy (1975–76, 1982–83, 1986–90, Ukraine 2000–01)
Nikita Simonyan (1963, 1964, 1977–79, 1988)
"Attractive football? I do not understand this," Valeriy Lobanovskiy told UEFA.com shortly before his death in 2002. "There is not a club official or fan who would want an attractive defeat. Football is a war. Every opponent has only one purpose – to win."

Valeriy Lobanovskiy in 1988
Valeriy Lobanovskiy in 1988©Getty Images

'The Master' led the USSR to the quarter-finals of the 1976 UEFA European Championship and to a bronze-medal finish at the Olympics later that year, but capped that in 1988 when he guided his side to the final of the EURO, where they fell to the Netherlands. Only a play-off defeat by Germany denied his Ukraine team a place at the 2002 World Cup.

Nikita Simonyan was coach for two one-off friendlies while serving as FC Spartak Moskva boss and then had a longer reign as the USSR failed to get to the 1978 World Cup and 1980 UEFA European Championship finals. Working as director of the national team, he had one further game in the dugout, covering when Lobanovskiy was ill in 1988.

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