Five Serie A Legends Who Coached Their Former Teams and How It Went

Considering the news that legendary Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi has succeeded Jose Mourinho as the club’s manager, we’re looking back at five times that Serie A icons went back to their old club as manager and seeing how they got on.

1 – Andrea Pirlo at Juventus

Allowed to leave Milan on a free in 2011 because they wouldn’t offer him a long-term deal, Andrea Pirlo rocked up at Juventus in the following seasons, where many felt that the elegant midfielder’s best days were behind him.

Four years and four Scudetti later, – one of them unbeaten – Pirlo had proved the doubters wrong. Pirlo was awarded the Serie A player of the year award three years running, between 2012 and 2014. He departed to New York City FC in 2015, where he eventually retired.

Fast forward to 2020, and he was given the Juventus head coach job after the club dismissed Maurizio Sarri.

Pirlo inherited a squad filled with world stars, such as Giorgio Chiellini, Paulo Dybala, and of course, Cristiano Ronaldo. However, despite guiding the team to winning the Coppa Italia, Juve’s fourth-place league finish and disappointing Champions League campaign meant that the club opted to sack him at the end of the season and allow Massimiliano Allegri to return.

He went on to manage for a season in Turkey and currently is head coach of Sampdoria in Serie B.

2 – Clarence Seedorf at Milan

A five-time Champions League winner throughout his illustrious career, Clarence Seedorf won two of them when he played for Milan between 2002 and 2012.

In January 2014, the Dutchman left his player role at Botafogo in Brazil to take up the hot seat at San Siro, replacing the outgoing Allegri.

The Italian coach managed to win a Scudetto in 2011, so replacing him was going to be no easy feat for Seedorf, who was entering his first managerial job.

It proved to be too much for the former Inter and Real Madrid star, after his Milan side limped into eighth in the league that season. In Seedorf’s 22 games in charge of the Rossoneri, his team only managed 11 wins, drawing two and suffering nine defeats.

While this Milan squad was a far cry from the great teams Seedorf was a part of, the team’s standing was deemed not good enough, and Seedorf was relieved of his duties at the end of the season.

3 – Antonio Conte at Juventus

By far the most successful manager on this list, Antonio Conte was a mainstay in Juventus’ midfield in the Nineties and made 419 appearances for the Bianconeri between 1991 and 2004. In his playing career, he won the Champions League in 1996 as well as five Scudetti.

He also learned under the likes of Marcello Lippi and Giovanni Trapattoni, which many feel helped mold the sort of manager Conte would eventually become.

After retiring from football in 2004, Conte completed his coaching badges and returned to the sport as assistant manager of Siena in 2005. He took his first managerial position at Arezzo in 2006 and managed Bari, Atalanta, and Siena before finally becoming Juve’s manager in 2011.

Conte inherited an aging squad that many felt were past their best years. However, he managed to squeeze every drop out of their careers.

Juventus went unbeaten in the league in Conte’s first season in charge, thanks in no small part to the addition of the aforementioned Pirlo.

Aided by the signings of Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba, and Carlos Tevez, Conte’s Juventus dominated Italian football. The unbeaten season started an unprecedented run, in which the club won nine consecutive Scudetti, three of which came under Conte’s tutelage.

He managed the Italian national team for a brief period, before coaching in England with Chelsea and Tottenham. He is unemployed but still an attractive proposition for any team without a manager.

4 – Filippo Inzaghi at Milan

Part of the same Champions League-winning teams as Seedorf, Filippo Inzaghi is another World Cup winner who played 300 times for Milan and retired in 2012.

When the club fired Clarence Seedorf at the end of the 2013/14 season, they decided they hadn’t hired enough former players and turned to the Italian to take on the manager’s role at San Siro. His only experience at this point in his career was managing the clubs under 17’s and under 19’s.

Inzaghi suffered the same problem his former teammate Seedorf had the previous year. This Milan team was nowhere near as good as the one they had played in. With its marquee players being an aging Fernando Torres and an inconsistent Stephen El Shaarawy, the Rossoneri were bound to have a poor season.

Milan suffered a worse league standing than under Seedorf and finished the season in tenth. It was not good enough to save Inzaghi’s job, and he was let go at the end of the season.

He is currently managing Salernitana.

5 – Ciro Ferrara at Juventus

Last on this list is accomplished centre half Ciro Ferrara. Coming through at Napoli, Ferrara won a pair of Scudetti as well as the UEFA Cup before joining Juventus in 1994.

With the Old Lady, Ferrara added five more league titles, as well as a Champions League, in his 358 appearances for the club. He retired in 2005 having won everything there was to win at club level.

Ferrara became Juve’s manager in 2009 when the club harshly sacked Claudio Ranieri, who had just guided the team to second in the league behind Mourinho’s Inter.

However, if they thought things were bad with Ranieri, they were set to get a whole lot worse under Ferrara.

A poor showing in the Champions League meant that they could only secure third place in a relatively manageable group. This relegated them to the Europa League, where they were convincingly beaten by Fulham.