The Champions League is the biggest and most prestigious club competition on the planet, and in terms of quality has probably surpassed the World Cup too. The trophy has eluded many great managers, though, and in this slideshow we pick out 20 of them - one of whom will expunge his name from the list after Saturday's final between Liverpool and Tottenham.
Note: Each of the coaches selected here has participated in the tournament since its rebrand in 1992, as it’s rather unfair to include gaffers who have never had a crack of winning it. Sorry, Mr Pulis...
Antonio Conte (Juventus, Chelsea)
If reports are to be believed, Conte will be managing Inter in Serie A next season. The Nerazzurri will expect to improve on this year's fourth-place finish with the Italian at the helm, and they will also hope to advance to the knockout stage of the Champions League - something they failed to do in 2018/19.
Yet despite his domestic achievements - three league titles at Juventus and another at Chelsea, Conte has so far been unable to deliver success on the continental stage. Juve didn't make it beyond the last eight during his time at the helm, while Chelsea crashed out after losing to Barcelona in the round of 16 in 2017/18.
Didier Deschamps (Monaco, Marseille)
Some claim that France won the 2018 World Cup due to their sheer depth of talent rather than any tactical brilliance on the manager's part. But far be it from us to ignore the pinnacle of international glory on a manager’s CV, plus – 14 years previously – Deschamps did do something special in the Champions League.
It got lost in the story of Jose Mourinho winning the competition with Porto, but Monaco also enjoyed a superb run in 2003/04. Deschamps’ overachievers knocked out Real Madrid and Chelsea to reach the final, although the Ligue 1 side were outclassed in a 3-0 defeat.
Otto Rehhagel (Werder Bremen, Kaiserslautern)
King Otto’s Champions League record isn’t really the stuff of royalty, the sum total being a good run to the quarter-finals with unfancied Kaiserslautern in 1998/99. Yet the German’s record elsewhere is the stuff of greatness.
His 14 years at Werder Bremen are viewed as the club’s golden age: Rehhagel reeled in two Bundesliga titles, a pair of DFB-Pokals, three German Supercups, plus European success with the 1992 Cup Winners’ Cup. Rehhagel then pulled off the ultimate international upset by managing Greece to Euro 2004 glory, but he never got his hands on the Champions League.
Kenny Dalglish (Newcastle)
A three-time European Cup winner as a player, Dalglish’s managerial record in this competition amounts to a modest six games with Newcastle in the late 1990s. However, the big asterisk is that Dalglish took a superb Liverpool side to a host of domestic honours in the late 1980s, while English clubs were banned from Europe post-Heysel.
After leading his club through the Hillsborough disaster and winning a league title in 1990, Dalglish abruptly resigned in 1991. He’d later rubber-stamp his greatness as a gaffer by winning the Premier League with Blackburn in 1994/95, becoming just the fourth boss to conquer the English championship with two different clubs.
Mircea Lucescu (Galatasaray, Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter, Besiktas, Rapid Bucharest)
Only six managers have bossed a century of Champions League games, and Romania’s Lucescu is among that elite group. The fact he’s never come close to winning it – quarter-final spots with Galatasaray and Shakhtar Donetsk being his best finishes – in no way reflects his coaching ability.
Outside of a brief spell with Inter in Italy, Lucescu hasn’t exactly managed the type of clubs you'd expect to win this competition. Yet he has had outstanding success, particularly at Shakhtar, whom he guided to UEFA Cup glory in 2009.
Unai Emery (Spartak Moscow, Valencia, Sevilla, PSG)
Emery may have won the Europa League three times with Sevilla, but he was unable to repeat the feat at Arsenal - who were thrashed 4-1 by Chelsea in Wednesday's final - this season. That defeat means the Gunners won't be participating in the Champions League next term, so Emery will have to wait a while longer to remove his name from this list.
Emery did brilliantly to lead financially struggling Valencia into the competition on three occasions, but PSG’s ignominious exit at the hands of Barcelona in 2016/17 was undoubtedly a major failing.
Max Allegri (Milan, Juventus)
Having recently been sacked by a Milan side languishing in the bottom half of Serie A, Allegri wasn’t a popular choice to replace Antonio Conte as Juventus boss back in 2014. The Italian wasn’t a total failure at San Siro, though, winning the title in 2011 and reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League the following season.
He’s since added five more Serie A winner’s medals to his collection at Juve, but both of his appearances in the Champions League final ended in defeat. Wherever he ends up next - Allegri has parted ways with the Bianconeri - the Italian will be desperate to go all the way in Europe.
Bobby Robson (Porto, Newcastle)
England’s greatest managerial export took the Three Lions to a World Cup semi-final and won a host of competitions in England, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands – all while not actually knowing the first names of any of his players.
His success in European competition wasn’t to be sniffed at either: a UEFA Cup victory with Ipswich in 1981 was followed by a 1997 Cup Winners’ Cup triumph through a Ronaldo-inspired Barcelona. There was a nice Indian summer to his career too, as Robson led his hometown club Newcastle into the Champions League twice, but 2002/03’s second group stage was the furthest that the Magpies got.
Jurgen Klopp (Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool)
A narrative around Klopp, during his time at England at least, is that he can’t quite win the big one. Yet to lose two Champions League finals – as Klopp has done in 2013 and 2018 – you have to reach two Champions League finals. And as few were tipping Borussia Dortmund or Liverpool for those spots when their respective seasons began, it’s definitely a case of European overachievement.
On top of that, Klopp has proved his credentials as a winner in Germany. Back-to-back Bundesliga titles, plus a DFB-Pokal, is a hell of a feat in the (often) one-horse race that is the German league. He may finally end his wait for a European trophy in Madrid this Saturday.
Valeriy Lobanovskiy (Dynamo Kyiv)
A believer in science, analytics and periods of high-pressing intensity, Lobanovskiy managed Russia at two World Cups and took them to the runners-up spot at Euro ‘88. Yet it’s his three spells at Dynamo Kiev that define him, featuring 13 league titles and two Cup Winners’ Cups triumphs.
The closest Lobanovskiy got was in 1999, when he led a brilliant side spearheaded by Andriy Shevchenko to the semi-finals, and an agonising 4-3 aggregate loss to Bayern Munich.
Arsene Wenger (Monaco, Arsenal)
Forget the last decade of slow decline at Arsenal (albeit a slump which involved three FA Cup wins): Wenger had established his greatness by then. A trio of Premier League titles – two doubles plus an unbeaten season – were achieved with dazzling élan, and on a relative budget that shamed some of Europe’s biggest spenders.
Wenger helped modernise Arsenal, yet his European record was curiously mixed. There were remarkable victories – a 5-1 destruction of Inter, a win over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu – but never a triumphant campaign, although there was no shame in narrowly losing the 2006 final to Barcelona.
Diego Simeone (Atletico Madrid)
Few managers in the modern era have had as transformative effect on a club’s fortunes as Simeone. Atletico Madrid were 10th in La Liga when the Argentine took over midway through 2011/12; since then, Los Colchoneros have won a league title, a Copa del Rey, two Europa Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups and, perhaps most significantly of all, turned a Big Two into three.
Simeone has also taken Atleti agonisingly close to Champions League glory on two occasions. Leading their city rivals Real Madrid 1-0 going into second-half stoppage time in the 2014 final, the Spanish champions conceded to a Sergio Ramos header and then collapsed in extra time, ultimately losing 4-1. The same opponents stood in their way in the 2016 showpiece, when Real beat Atletico on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
Hector Cuper (Valencia, Inter)
Currently in charge of Uzbekistan having previously served as Egypt boss, the 63-year-old Cuper seems to have left the club game behind. He was once one of the most in-demand coaches in European football, having come close to winning the Champions League with both Valencia and Inter.
Cuper did superbly to lead the former to two consecutive finals in 2000 and 2001, but los Che came up short against Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively. At Inter in 2002/03, Cuper’s men were cruelly eliminated on away goals in the semi-finals – against Milan, with whom they share a stadium.
Sven-Goran Eriksson (Lazio)
Eriksson has been hopping around the globe since leaving Manchester City in 2008; in the last 11 years, he’s worked in Mexico, Ivory Coast, the United Arab Emirates, China and the Philippines. It’s easy to forget that he was once renowned as one of the best managers in Europe, even if he wasn’t quite able to win the biggest prize the continent has to offer.
His best (and only) chance came at Lazio, who won the 1999/00 Serie A title under the Swede’s tutelage. The Biancocelesti had one foot in the last four of the Champions League the following year, only to throw away a 1-0 first-leg lead by losing 5-2 to Valencia in the return fixture.
Manuel Pellegrini (Villarreal, Real Madrid, Malaga, Manchester City)
Villarreal were potentially a Juan Riquelme penalty away from a place in the Champions League final in 2006, but the Argentinian’s miss helped Arsenal reach the showpiece at their expense. Pellegrini’s contribution to the Yellow Submarine’s run to the last four was recognised by Madrid, but the Chilean’s team were beaten by Lyon in the last 16 – his only knockout tie in charge of the European kings.
Pellegrini bounced back to lead unfancied Malaga to within a whisker of the semi-finals in 2012/13, before again reaching the last four with Manchester City three years later.
Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham)
When Pochettino arrived at Tottenham in 2014, the club probably tasked him with making Tottenham consistent top-four challengers over the next five years. The Argentinian has massively exceeded those expectations, leading Spurs to two runners-up finishes in the Premier League and to within one win of Champions League glory.
Pochettino masterminded group-stage victories over Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund last term, before Tottenham were edged out by Juventus in the last 16. They’ve built on that progress in 2018/19, beating Dortmund, Manchester City and Ajax in the knockout phase to reach the first Champions League final in the club’s history.
Maurizio Sarri (Napoli)
Deeply unpopular with the club’s fans and a leading target to be the next Juventus boss, Sarri looks set to depart Chelsea this summer. He may have failed to win over the Stamford Bridge faithful due to his style of play and general demeanour, but a Europa League victory and third-place finish in the Premier League represent a job well done for the Italian.
Wednesday’s 4-1 triumph over Arsenal brought Sarri his first ever trophy as a manager, which he promptly dedicated to Napoli fans post-match. The former banker came close to winning the Serie A title during his time at the Stadio San Paolo, but the furthest his team got in the Champions League was the last 16 in 2016/17.
Thomas Tuchel (Borussia Dortmund, PSG)
Borussia Dortmund were being tipped as potential Champions League dark horses in 2016/17, and who knows what might have been were it not for the bomb attack on the team coach that occurred on the eve of their quarter-final clash with Monaco. BVB may have gone on to lose that tie anyway, but it certainly wasn’t ideal preparation.
Tuchel was more culpable for PSG’s European exit this season, as the Ligue 1 champions threw away a 2-0 first-leg lead to lose to Manchester City on away goals in the last 16. He’ll be expected to take the Parisians all the way in 2019/20.
Dick Advocaat (PSV, Rangers, Zenit Saint Petersburg)
Fans of PSV, Rangers and Zenit weren’t exactly demanding Champions League glory while Advocaat was occupying their respective dugouts, but the Dutchman remains one of the brightest coaches who never got his hands on the famous trophy.
PSV finished second in their group in 1997/98 but were denied a place in the knockout stage due to the tournament’s format back then, while Advocaat’s Rangers were also knocked out before the last 16 in 1999/00 and 2000/01. The same fate befell him at Zenit, although the current Utrecht coach can at least console himself with his four league winner’s medals at the three aforementioned clubs.
Roberto Mancini (Inter, Manchester City, Galatasaray)
Mancini’s present focus is on rebuilding the Italy national team following their failure to qualify for last summer’s World Cup, but the Champions League probably hasn’t seen the last of him. His first spell at Inter came to an end in 2008 after the former striker failed to deliver Champions League success in his four seasons in charge – something Jose Mourinho managed two years later.
Mancini also came up short at Manchester City, who were knocked out in the group stage in both 2010/11 and 2011/12, before reaching the last 16 in his final campaign at the helm. The Italian did well to lead Galatasaray to the knockouts in 2013/14, but going all the way with the Turkish outfit was always going to be a tall order.