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Have Any Footballers Won the World Cup as Both Players and Managers?

It’s extremely difficult to win football’s greatest prize, the World Cup. Whether as a player or a manager, going all the way in this notoriously tough tournament is the thing of dreams for anyone involved in the game. But has anybody ever managed to win the World Cup first as a player and then as a manager? It would be a short article if the answer was ‘no’, so let’s cut to the chase: yes, three men have won the World Cup as players and then managers. And they are:

  • Mário Zagallo – Won the World Cup twice as a player with Brazil (1958, 1962) and then led his nation to glory as a manager in 1970.
  • Franz Beckenbauer – Won the World Cup as a player with West Germany in 1972, then took them to 1990 World Cup success as a manager.
  • Didier Deschamps – Won the World Cup with France as a player in 1998 and managed Les Bleus to victory two decades later in 2018.

Sadly, both Mário Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer died in January 2024, so Didier Deschamps is the only living man to have achieved this feat. So let’s find out a little more about each of these legends of the Beautiful Game.

Mário Zagallo

Brazil Flag Waving

  • Position – Inside forward, left winger
  • Nationality – Brazilian
  • Club(s) Played For – Flamengo, Botafogo
  • Club Honours (Player) – Rio de Janeiro State Championship: 1953, 1954, 1955); Rio-São Paulo Tournament: 1962, 1964; Rio de Janeiro State Championship: 1961, 1962
  • International Caps – 33
  • International Honours (Player) – FIFA World Cup: 1958, 1962
  • International Honours (Manager) – FIFA World Cup: 1970; Copa América: 1997; FIFA Confederations Cup: 1997; Arabian Gulf Cup: 1976 (with Kuwait)

Mário Zagallo was the first footballer to win the World Cup as both player and manager. Astoundingly, as well as the two World Cups he won while playing for Brazil and the one he won as manager in 1970, he was also the assistant manager when Brazil won the World Cup in 1994.

As mentioned, Zagallo died in January 2024 at the ripe age of 92, but he’s left behind some legacy. He played for just two clubs in his career, Flamengo and Botafogo of Rio de Janeiro, but his managerial career was far more varied.

As well as several Brazilian clubs side and the Brazilian national side, Zagallo managed the Kuwait national team, Saudi side Al-Hilal (long before the Pro League!), and the United Arab Emirates. But he will be best remembered for his successes with Brazil, both as a player and a manager.

Franz Beckenbauer

German Flag Ruffled

  • Position – Midfielder (early career), sweeper
  • Nationality – German
  • Club(s) Played For – Bayern Munich, New York Cosmos, Hamburger SV
  • Club Honours (Player) – Bundesliga: 1968/69, 1971/72, 1972/73, 1973/74, 1981/82; DFB-Pokal: 1965/66, 1966/67, 1968/69, 1970/71; UEFA European Cup: 1973/74, 1974/75, 1975/76; UEFA European Cup Winners’ Cup: 1966/67
  • International Caps – 103
  • International Honours (Player) – FIFA World Cup: 1974; UEFA European Championship: 1972
  • International Honours (Manager) – FIFA World Cup: 1990

Another legend of the game who sadly passed away in January 2024, Franz Beckenbauer was an intelligent defender who many credit with inventing the position of sweeper. With excellent reading of the game, his positional sense and distribution were years ahead of most of those around him. He was also highly rated by some of the greatest players ever, with Pele, in particular singing, his praises on several occasions.

As well as winning the World Cup with (then) West Germany as a player in 1974, he came close on two other occasions. His side ended in third place in the 1970 World Cup but, more famously for those in England, he played in the 1966 final at Wembley that Sir Alf Ramsey’s England won 4-2 after extra time.

Beckenbauer was highly successful at club level too, with several German and European honours, as well as two Ballons d’Or awards, which is unheard of for a defender. He was able to transfer at least some of that success into management too, with the 1990 World Cup triumph coming after finishing as runners-up in 1986 and ending the 1988 European Championship in third place. He went on to win the French title with Marseille, and the German title and the UEFA Cup with the club he played for most: Bayern Munich.

Didier Deschamps

Didier Deschamps
Image: William Morice, flickr
  • Position – Defensive midfielder
  • Nationality – French
  • Club(s) Played For – Nantes, Marseille, Juventus, Chelsea, Valencia
  • Club Honours (Player) – Ligue 1: 1989/90, 1991/92; UEFA Champions League: 1992/93,1995–96; Serie A: 1994/95, 1996/97, 1997/98; Coppa Italia: 1994/95; FA Cup: 1999/2000
  • International Caps – 103
  • International Honours (Player) – FIFA World Cup: 1998; UEFA European Championship: 2000
  • International Honours (Manager) – FIFA World Cup: 2018

The most recent of the three to achieve the feat of winning the World Cup as both a player and a manager, Didier Deschamps coincidentally played the same number of times for France (103) as Beckenbauer did for West Germany. As an astute and tenacious defensive midfielder, Deschamps was able to frustrate opponents’ attacks better than most in the game. Although Deschamps’ teammate Eric Cantona dismissed him as “the water carrier”, it was clear that Deschamps had mastered his role and was one of the first names on the teamsheet for his clubs and country.

As a player, he was successful in France, Italy and England, and he was pivotal in France’s success in both their World Cup victory of 1998 on home soil and their subsequent European Championship success two years later.

As a manager, Deschamps brought the same uncompromising approach he’d shown as a player and it paid off. He won the French League Cup with Monaco and even took them to the 2003/04 Champions League final (which he lost to Jose Mourinho’s Porto). After winning various honours including the French title with Marseille, Deschamps was handed the national team job.

He moulded an excellent side that finished as runners-up in the 2016 Euros before winning the 2018 World Cup in Russia, then adding the 2020/21 Nations League before ending up as losing finalists at the 2022 World Cup. Given that, at the time of writing, Deschamps is still in the France hot seat, there’s still potentially time for him to win another World Cup in 2026, and his side’s chances at Euro 2024 in Germany also look excellent.

Have Any Women Won the World Cup as Players and Managers?

Woman in Suit Holding Football in Front of Face

As an aside, no women have yet accomplished the feat of winning the World Cup as both a player and a manager, but this is in no small part due to the Women’s World Cup only getting off the ground in 1991. Not only that, five of the nine Women’s World Cup-winning teams to date were managed by men. Despite this, we expect a woman to join this elite club before too long.