10 high-profile player-managers Wayne Rooney will follow in the footsteps of

Quick Reads

With Wayne Rooney acting as interim player-manager at Derby County, the former England captain is the latest in a long-line of famous player-managers.

The sight of an elite footballer attempting the transition from one-of-the-lads to dressing room leader has a rich history. For every John Toshack, who led Swansea City to the verge of the title in the 1980s, there’s been a Chris Waddle, who narrowly avoided relegation at third-tier Burnley in 1998.

We’ve compiled 11 of the most famous player-managers over the years.

Edgar Davids

You cannot question the confidence of any man that decides to give himself the No.1 shirt, but it turned out Davids’ belief was misplaced at Barnet.

Under Davids’ leadership, Barnet were relegated from League Two on the last day of his first season. Adjusting to life in non-league, the former Barcelona and Juventus midfielder was booked in his first eight games and ended up getting sent off three times.

Having also refused to attend games that required an overnight stay, he resigned in January 2014.

READ: Remembering Edgar Davids’ wonderful then weird stint at Barnet

Graeme Souness

Never particularly shy of controversy, Souness time as player-manager at Rangers included naming himself as a substitute after receiving a touchline ban, but boy was he successful.

Having been bought from Sampdoria, the Scotland international’s five years at Ibrox saw him win three league titles and four Scottish League Cups.

READ: The Joy Of…Player Managers: From Souey & Dalglish to Davids at Barnet

Kenny Dalglish

Dalglish is among the greatest of Liverpool heroes and stepped up after Joe Fagan resigned from his post as manager following the Heysel Stadium disaster.

In his first season as player-manager, Dalglish scored the winner against Chelsea to win the league title on the final day before adding the FA Cup to complete the Double.

The rest of the former Celtic man’s time at Anfield was trophyless, but his response to the Hillsborough disaster only cemented his place further as a hero of Liverpool.

Bryan Robson

The moment the role of player-manager peaked.

Glenn Hoddle

Hoddle worked magic at times at Swindon Town, taking the cash-strapped club to the Premier League two years after taking over, scoring the opener in the play-off final that got them there.

He was subsequently poached by Chelsea, becoming their first-ever player-manager, reaching the FA Cup final before retiring from the playing side of things.

Vincent Kompany

Undoubtedly an incredible player, Kompany’s struggles at Anderlecht show the difficulty of combining the two roles in the modern era.

Having left Manchester City to return to Anderlecht as player-manager, he soon stepped down from the management side of the role after the Belgian outfit made their worst start to a league campaign since 1998-99.

He has since retired as a player to take over once more as head coach, faring slightly better in 2020-21. While Anderlecht sit seventh, they have lost just one of their opening 12 fixtures, albeit drawing six of them.


Romario was thrown in at the deep end when he took over as Vasco da Gama player-manager in October 2007, with his first game being the second leg of a Copa Sudamericana tie against Mexican outfit Club America.

His side won 1-0, but it wasn’t enough to get through. The Brazilian had retired from both playing and coaching by December after testing positive for a banned substance, claiming it was a baldness treatment. Never change.


READ: A celebration of Romario at Barcelona: Football, flights and f*cking

Gennaro Gattuso

We’re not saying FC Sion were a bit of a shitshow in 2012-13, but Gattuso was ultimately the fifth manager to be sacked by the club after all of three months in charge as player-manager.

To make matters weirder, the man he replaced, Victor Munoz, was demoted to a scouting role, although we’re going to guess he probably didn’t argue too much about the decision with Gattuso.

Paul Gascoigne

Gazza’s first spell as a player-coach saw him work at Chinese club Gansu Tianma. He scored two goals in four games but didn’t return after requiring treatment for alcoholism and depression in the USA.

Over a year later, he went to League Two side Boston United, again as a player-coach, playing five times in three months.

Gianluca Vialli

Throughout the 1990s, Chelsea employed a host of player-managers, with the aforementioned Hoddle replaced by Ruud Gullit, who in turn was replaced by Vialli.

After Gullit was sacked in February 1998 with Chelsea still in the League Cup semi-final and European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-final, Vialli led the side to success in both as the Blues also finished fourth in the Premier League.

READ: Scott Minto: When Vialli and co arrived at Chelsea, things started to get sexy

More from Planet Football

The Joy Of…Player Managers: From Souey & Dalglish to Davids at Barnet

A celebration of Romario at Barcelona: Football, flights and f*cking

‘I can’t rate him highly enough’ – What it was like at the Glenn Hoddle Academy

Can you name the full England squad from the first game at new Wembley?