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Europe's youngest coaching successes

Published: Friday 22 May 2015, 8.53CET
A 25-year-old coach led FC Dila Gori to this season's Georgian title, but as UEFA.com discovers, Ucha Sosiashvili is not the first manager to win a top-tier title before his 30th birthday.
Europe's youngest coaching successes
Roy Hodgson was 29 when he led Halmstad to the title ©Hulton Archive

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Published: Friday 22 May 2015, 8.53CET

Europe's youngest coaching successes

A 25-year-old coach led FC Dila Gori to this season's Georgian title, but as UEFA.com discovers, Ucha Sosiashvili is not the first manager to win a top-tier title before his 30th birthday.

"They say experience is key to success at this level, but my example shows it can be the other way," said Ucha Sosiashvili after steering FC Dila Gori to Georgian championship glory at the age of 25. As UEFA.com discovers, he is not the first coach to land a major prize in his 20s.

Perhaps the most remarkable coup was that of Hungarian trainer Lippo Hertzka, who guided Real Madrid CF unbeaten to their first Spanish title in 1931/32, with the championship confirmed not long after his 28th birthday.

According to most statistics, the striker was working in Spain as a coach before he turned 20, and had been in charge of Real Sociedad de Fútbol, Athletic Club and Sevilla FC before arriving in the Spanish capital.

Former Maidstone United FC team-mates Bob Houghton and Roy Hodgson were a sensation in Swedish football in the 1970s; Houghton claimed the first of his three titles as Malmö FF boss in 1974 – when he was just 26 – and two more (in 1975 and 1977) before he reached 30.

Forest's 1979 title success

He led Malmö as they lost 1-0 to Nottingham Forest FC in the 1978/79 European Champion Clubs' Cup final, making 'English Bob' the youngest coach – at 31 – to feature in a major UEFA final. 'English Roy', meanwhile, took the Halmstads BK job aged 28 in 1976 and coached them to that year's championship, not long after turning 29.

In Wales, Nigel Adkins occupied the Bangor City FC hot seat aged 28, lifting the 1993/94 and 1994/95 titles as goalkeeper-manager either side of his 30th birthday.

©Badri Ketiladze

Ucha Sosiashvili

Yet for really young coaching success stories, you have to head north. The oldest club in the Faroe Islands, TB Tvøroyri collected the league crown in 1977 under the tutelage of 22-year-old Dane John Rødgaard – who was also Faroese chess champion.

A teenager when making his international debut for Iceland in 1951, Ríkhardur Jónsson was regarded as his country's greatest player – until Eidur Gudjohnsen broke his record of 17 national-team goals in 2007.

After impressing with Fram Reykjavík he joined home-town team ÍA Akranes, the 22-year-old player-manager winning the first of six titles in eight years in 1951 – all the while holding down a day job as a master painter.

Youngest UEFA club competition final winning coaches
33y 213d: André Villas-Boas (FC Porto, 2011 UEFA Europa League)
33y 308d: Gianluca Vialli (Chelsea FC, 1998 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup)
34y 102d*: Sven-Göran Eriksson (IFK Göteborg, 1982 UEFA Cup)
34y 163d: Víctor Fernández (Real Zaragoza, 1995 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup)
36y 101d: Joaquim Rifé (FC Barcelona, 1979 European Cup Winners' Cup)

Youngest UEFA Champions League winning coach
38y 129d: Josep Guardiola (FC Barcelona, 2009)

Youngest UEFA club competition final losing coaches
31y 229d: Bob Houghton (Malmö FF, 1979 European Champion Clubs' Cup)
32y 151d: Ricardo Gomes (Paris Saint-Germain FC, 1997 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup)
34y 245d: Matthias Sammer (Borussia Dortmund, 2002 UEFA Cup)
35y 12d*: Jupp Heynckes (VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach, 1980 UEFA Cup)
35y 102d*: Sven-Göran Eriksson (SL Benfica, 1983 UEFA Cup)

Oldest UEFA club competition winning coaches
71y 231d: Raymond Goethals (Olympique de Marseille, 1993 UEFA Champions League)
68y 16d: Jupp Heynckes (FC Bayern München, 2012 UEFA Champions League)
66y 142d: Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United FC, 2008 UEFA Champions League)
64y 85d: Sir Bobby Robson (FC Barcelona, 1997 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup)
64y 79d: Joe Fagan (Liverpool FC, 1984 European Champion Clubs' Cup)

Major UEFA club competition is defined as European Champion Clubs' Cup/UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League or UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.

*calculated from second leg

Last updated: 13/12/17 14.35CET

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