Every Englishman to Manage in the Champions League

Oct 28, 2020, 12:30 PM GMT
Gary Neville, Phil Neville
Gary Neville is among only seven English managers in the Champions League | Alex Caparros/Getty Images

There have been seven Englishmen who have managed clubs in the Champions League since the competition was re-branded from the old European Cup in 1992.

But precious few have actually done so in more than one season.

Here's a closer look at all seven and their respective records.

1. Howard Wilkinson

Howard Wilkinson, Glenn Hoddle
Howard Wilkinson was the first English manager in the Champions League | Getty Images/Getty Images

Club: Leeds

Champions League Record: W2, L3

Best Finish: Second Round

Following the re-brand from the old European Cup, Howard Wilkinson was the first Englishman to manage a club in the new Champions League.

Leeds had been crowned English champions the previous season – the last year before the Premier League era – but didn’t last very long in Europe.

The format was different to today, with clubs first having to navigate two knockout round before the group stage. They beat Stuttgart in the first round, but needed a replay after the second leg was forfeited, and then lost 4-1 on aggregate to Rangers in round two.

2. Ray Harford

FILE PHOTO Former Blackburn Manager Ray Harford Dies At 58
Ray Harford was in charge at Blackburn in 1995/96 | Getty Images/Getty Images

Club: Blackburn

Champions League Record: W1, D1, L4

Best Finish: Group Stage

It had been Kenny Dalglish who steered Blackburn to the Premier League title in 1994/95, but his move into a director of football role meant it was Ray Harford in charge the following season as Rovers played in Europe for only the second time in their history.

Drawn into a Champions League group with Spartak Moscow, Rosenborg and Legia Warsaw, they lost against each in their opening three games. They took a point against Legia on matchday four, but were then thumped in Moscow to knock them out.

Blackburn did win 4-1 against Rosenborg on matchday six, a game in which Mike Newell scored a hat-trick, but it was too little too late and they finished bottom of the standings.

3. Sir Bobby Robson

Newcastle United manager Sir Bobby Robson
Sir Bobby Robson managed three different clubs in the Champions League | Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Clubs: Porto, PSV Eindhoven, Newcastle

Champions League Record: W12, D6, L12 (inc. qualifying)

Best Finish: Second Group Stage

The late, great Sir Bobby Robson was a trailblazer for English managers in the Champions League and is still yet to be matched, taking charge of three different clubs from three different countries in Europe’s elite competition.

His first Champions League club was Porto, guiding them into the competition in 1995/96. It ended at the group stage, however, after the team drew four of their six games.

Next came PSV Eindhoven in 1998/99, his second spell at the Dutch club. That season started with an aggregate win over Maribor in a qualifying round, but again ended in the group stage.

Robson enjoyed his best Champions League season with a strong Newcastle in 2002/03. His side made light work of a qualifying tie against Zeljeznicar and successfully navigated the first group stage, despite losing their opening three games.

The second group stage saw Newcastle face Barcelona, Inter and 2002 finalists Bayer Leverkusen. They didn’t go any further in the competition, but still beat Leverkusen home and away and also earned an impressive draw against Inter at San Siro.

Two more Champions League games followed for Robson in 2003/04 in a qualifying tie against Partizan Belgrade. Newcastle won away, but lost at home and proceeded to go out on penalties.

4. Harry Redknapp

Tottenham's coach Harry Redknapp gesture
Harry Redknapp led Spurs in the 2010/11 Champions League | AFP/Getty Images

Club: Tottenham

Champions League Record: W5, D3, L4 (inc. qualifying)

Best Finish: Quarter-Finals

Harry Redknapp beat Manchester City to the Premier League’s final Champions League place in 2010 and it proved to be a rollercoaster ride at Europe’s highest level, including some famous wins.

His Tottenham side first had to win a playoff tie against Swiss side Young Boys just to get into the group stage, before later facing two memorable games against Inter that saw Gareth Bale explode into life.

The dynamic between Peter Crouch and Rafael van der Vaart proved particularly crucial and Spurs went on to beat AC Milan 1-0 over two legs in the last 16, before being dismantled by Real Madrid in the quarter-finals. It remained the club’s best European season until 2018/19.

5. Gary Neville

Gary Neville
Gary Neville managed one Champions League game in 2015 | Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Club: Valencia

Champions League Record: L1

Best Finish: Group Stage

Gary Neville wound up being hired as Valencia manager in December 2015 as a result of his ties to billionaire Peter Lim, with whom he already co-owned Salford City.

Neville’s younger brother Phil had earlier made the switch to the Mestalla as assistant coach and Gary's very first game upon being appointed was against Lyon in the Champions League.

Valencia lost 2-0 at home and were knocked out. As it happened, the damage was already done and even victory wouldn’t have been enough because of the group’s other result. Neville lasted until March 2016 when he was sacked after winning only three of 16 La Liga games.

6. Craig Shakespeare

Craig Shakespeare
Craig Shakespeare's Leicester beat Sevilla in the Champions League | Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Club: Leicester

Champions League Record: W1, D1, L1

Best Finish: Quarter-Finals

Craig Shakespeare took over as Leicester manager, initially as caretaker, in February 2017, with the club trailing on aggregate in their last 16 Champions League tie against Sevilla.

Claudio Ranieri had got the Foxes into Europe by winning the most unlikely of Premier League titles, while the Italian also guided the team through the group stage in the first place.

But Shakespeare steadied the ship when the Italian was sacked and oversaw a 2-0 win over Sevilla to reverse the deficit and prevail 3-2 on aggregate. Leicester then met Atletico Madrid in the last eight, but lost 2-1 on aggregate to the 2014 and 2016 finalists.

7. Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard is in charge at Chelsea | Robin Jones/Getty Images

Club: Chelsea

Champions League Record: W3, D3, L3

Best Finish: Last 16

Despite only one season at Derby in his managerial career, Frank Lampard was handed the reins at former club Chelsea in 2019. However, his time in charge is yet to live up to his time as a player.

Lampard lost his first ever Champions League game as a coach when Valencia won 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, but Chelsea recovered to reach the knockout stages. There, they met Bayern Munich and were comfortably thrashed 7-1 by the eventual winners.

As of 2020/21, Lampard is only the second Englishman ever to manage in more than one Champions League season.

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