"Age is just a number," said Miroslav Blažević, who celebrates his 80th birthday today. "What's important is how you feel, and I feel ready to do more big things." UEFA.com pays tribute to the evergreen Blažević and the others who lead the way in coaching in the most UEFA-affiliated nations.
9 countries: Tomislav Ivić (Croatia, Netherlands, Belgium, Turkey, Italy, Greece, Portugal, France, Spain)
The nine European countries in which Ivić plied his trade are only part of the story – his 37-year coaching odyssey took in 14 nations altogether, and he won league titles in Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece and Portugal. "I had wonderful moments at most of my clubs: at Anderlecht, Ajax, Porto," recalled the man regarded as Croatia's best ever coach a couple of years before his death in 2011. "Things are happening in football now that I predicted more than 20 years ago. I tried to put my visions into place then, but sometimes that wasn't appreciated. Obviously, I was ahead of my time."
9: John Toshack (England, Portugal, Spain, Wales, Turkey, France, Italy, FYR Macedonia, Azerbaijan)
Some will argue that Welshman Toshack only managed in eight countries, but since Swansea City AFC play in the English leagues, that appointment and his spell as Wales coach count as working in two nations. The former Liverpool FC striker learned a huge amount from Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley at Anfield, and continues to share that knowledge with the world. "The basis of everything I've done, wherever I've been, stems from the education I received as player under Shanks and Bob all those years ago," said the current Wydad Athletic Club of Casablanca boss. "I'm very grateful for that and owe them everything."
8: Béla Guttmann (Austria, Netherlands, Hungary, Romania, Italy, Cyprus, Portugal, Switzerland)
Known both for pioneering the 4-2-4 formation made famous in his native Hungary and for nurturing Eusébio while at SL Benfica, Guttmann never stayed long at any club, saying "the third season is fatal". He had a clause inserted in all future contracts that he could never be sacked while his team were top of their league after such a fate befell him at AC Milan in 1955, and he lifted titles in Hungary and Portugal as well as two European Champion Clubs' Cups. Among his colourful exploits was a stint in Romania where due to food shortages he insisted on being paid in vegetables. He died aged 81 in 1982.
7: Miroslav Blazević (Switzerland, Croatia, Serbia/Kosovo, France, Greece, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina)
A bronze medallist with Croatia at the 1998 FIFA World Cup finals, Blažević's coaching adventure began at Swiss side FC Vevey-Sports 05 in 1968 and his enthusiasm has still not faded; he is out looking for a new job after parting company with NK Zadar recently. Indeed, 'Ćiro' has rarely been out of work for long, though he remembered: "When I was trying to become a coach in Switzerland, I went from club to club trying to persuade them to take me. 'I am a superb coach – you'll see!' I said, but no one wanted me. Then I learned you should never put yourself forward – you should let people come to you."
7: Ljupko Petrović (Croatia, Serbia, Spain, Greece, Austria, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan)
A European Cup winner as FK Crvena zvezda coach, Petrović also lifted league titles with 'Red Star' and FK Vojvodina, and his passion for the game has not wavered throughout his many overseas escapades. "The glory days were at Crvena zvezda – that is unforgettable," the 67-year-old said. "But every new beginning, each new club and new challenge, means something special." Now coaching APR Kigali in Rwanda, Petrović has played or coached in five continents, and can only marvel at how far he has come. "The world is mine," he said. "When I see all the places I have been, that means a lot."
7: Pál Csernai (Germany, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, Turkey, Switzerland, Hungary)
Csernai, who died in 2013, started his coaching career in Germany in 1968, making the biggest impact during his tenure at FC Bayern München from 1978–83. He led the Bavarians through a transitional period when stars such as Sepp Maier and Uli Hoeness retired, collecting two West German championships and getting to the 1982 European Cup final. Famed for his trademark silk scarf and 'Pál system' of zonal and man-marking, the Hungarian Csernai's overseas peregrinations also included a Portuguese Cup success at Benfica and a period in charge of North Korea.
7: Roy Hodgson (Sweden, England, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Finland)
"When Bobby Houghton and I started off in management in our late 20s we were going to retire at 40 and start a travel agency," said England manager Hodgson as he reflected on his circuitous route to the national team job. A physical education teacher and amateur player, Hodgson made his name in Sweden at Halmstads BK, where the English style introduced by him and Houghton revolutionised local football. He made friends and influenced people in Italy, Denmark and Norway, and coached the Swiss and Finnish national sides before returning home to England.
6: Artur Jorge (Portugal, France, Switzerland, Spain, Netherlands, Russia)
A decent forward in his day, Artur Jorge made even bigger waves as a coach, guiding Porto to victory against Bayern in the 1986/87 European Cup final, in addition to three league titles. He was then nicknamed 'King Arthur' in France after winning Ligue 1 and the French Cup with Paris Saint-Germain, and while he was out of football for seven years more recently, he is in the dugout again with Algerian outfit MC Alger. "Despite working in so many places and for so many clubs, I did not want to stop," said the 68-year-old.
6: Dušan Uhrin Sr (Czech Republic, Cyprus, Israel, Sweden Georgia, Slovakia)
Steering the Czech Republic to a silver medal at EURO '96 made Uhrin his country's most successful national-team coach since the break-up of the former Czechoslovakia, and he has toured the world as a coach. "Winning the league in any country is always a great success, especially since it is always more difficult for foreign coaches," he said after landing the 2007/08 title in Georgia with FC Dinamo Tbilisi. His son Dušan Uhrin Jr also has the travel bug; at 47, he has already operated in five different countries.
6: Sergei Borovski (Belarus, Latvia, Moldova, Lithuania, Ukraine, Kazakhstan)
A one-club man as a player with FC Dinamo Minsk, Borovski has been anything but as a coach – the 59-year-old former Belarus boss having picked up a championship in Lithuania with FBK Kaunas as well as domestic cups in Moldova and Belarus, with FC Sheriff and FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk respectively. Asked about his career, he once said: "People say: 'Oh, you are such a lucky coach!' I say: 'No, I just always grab my chance.' When you get an opportunity, you have to make most of it. Every second, a coach has to be ready to work. And to be sacked too."
6: Revaz Dzodzuashvili (Georgia, Ukraine, Latvia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan)
A master man-marker for the Soviet Union, Dzodzuashvili's greatest coaching successes came in his native Georgia – he is the only coach to have won both the league and the Georgian Cup with three clubs – yet he has occupied the helm for teams in six former Soviet republics in total. "The reason a lot of star players don't go into coaching is not because they can't do it or are afraid to sully their reputations, but because they have already given so much to football and want to return to a normal life," he said. Normal life, it seems, was something he could live without.
6: Mihai Stoichiţă (Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Turkey, Armenia, Cyprus)
"I wanted to travel and to learn about different cultures, different approaches to football and to life," said Stoichiţă, reflecting on a career that has taken in Armenian Cup success with FC Pyunik, a Moldovan double with Sheriff as well as stewardship of the Kuwait and Panama national sides. "It wasn't always to do with money." Stoichiţă notably coached city rivals Aris Limassol FC, AEL Limassol FC and Apollon Limassol FC in Cyprus, but his three stints with FC Steaua Bucureşti remain personal highlights. "Nothing can compare to the way I felt at Steaua and the way I feel for Steaua," the Romanian said.
5: Giovanni Trapattoni (Italy, Germany, Portugal, Austria, Republic of Ireland)
5: László Bölöni (France, Romania, Portugal, Belgium, Greece)
5: Andrei Chernyshov (Russia, Georgia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan)
5: Claudio Ranieri (Italy, Spain, England, France, Greece)
5: Stuart Baxter (Sweden, Norway, Portugal, England, Finland)
5: Gjoko Hadzievski (FYR Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Azerbaijan)
5: Dušan Uhrin Jr (Czech Republic, Romania, Cyprus, Georgia, Belarus)
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