Football is indeed a beautiful game, and there is much to focus on apart from the goals and the results.
The relationships and connections built between certain individuals in the game tend to last forever. Especially between managers and players, there can be a special bond and mutual respect.
There have been some incredible partnerships between players and managers, which have changed the game in various ways. Some of the greatest players and managers in the game have enjoyed a fruitful relationship.
We look at the 5 best player-manager relationships in football.
#5 Jose Mourinho- Didier Drogba (Chelsea)
Jose Mourinho was one of the most exciting young coaches in world football when he was appointed as the manager of Chelsea in 2004.
Having led Porto to Champions League success the season before, Mourinho was tasked with establishing Chelsea as one of the biggest clubs in England. New owner Roman Abramovich was willing to spend extravagant amounts to make that happen, and Chelsea signed Didier Drogba from Marseille in 2004 for a fee of £34.6 million.
Years later, while discussing how Chelsea signed Didier Drogba, Mourinho had this to say:
“With all the big names in Europe at that time, I said Drogba. ‘Who is he? Where’s he playing?’ [I said] ‘Mr Abramovich—pay. Pay, and don’t speak.”
The Ivory Coast international would prove to be a shrewd acquisition. Now regarded as one of Chelsea’s greatest ever players, Drogba made 341 appearances in all competitions during his first spell at the club, scoring 157 goals.
Such was the relationship between Dorgba and Mourinho that the former was signed again during Mourinho’s second tenure as Chelsea boss. An iconic player, the striker won four Premier League titles at Chelsea, as well as a Champions League title.
#4 Arsene Wenger- Thierry Henry (Arsenal)
Questions were raised when Arsene Wenger decided to splurge £14.5 million to sign Thierry Henry from Juventus in 1999.
Wenger had coached Henry for a little while during his spell as AS Monaco boss. Henry’s talent was undeniable, and he left AS Monaco in January 1999 to join Juventus. However, the forward struggled at the Italian giants. Even so, Arsenal decided to pay a hefty amount to get him to the club.
Eventually, Wenger mentored Henry, converting the Frenchman into one of the deadliest strikers in the world.
“He was like a father figure for me. So, as you can imagine, with your dad, you argue, you scream, he punishes you. But that’s what happens when you love someone. Because you care, that’s why you argue. Arsene triggered my brain, and every day, it was something about my brain, about asking myself the right questions,” Henry said when asked about Wenger’s role in his career.
Such were Henry’s performances that he is now widely seen as one of the greatest players to have played in the Premier League. The France international made 376 appearances in all competitions across two spells for the Gunners, scoring 228 goals and providing 104 assists.
He was part of the Invincibles side and won the Premier League Golden Boot a record four times, as well as two Premier League titles.