Immortals: Klopp, Carlo and the greatest Champions League managers of all time

The final between Liverpool and Real Madrid pits two elite managers against each other - but who are the greatest ever coaches in the Champions League?

By Tim Williams Published: 27 May 2022 - 3.22pm

Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti are two doyens of modern management, and the legendary coaches will face off when Liverpool and Real Madrid meet in the Champions League final – with all the action from Paris exclusively live on BT Sport.

Many iconic leaders have masterminded success on the continent since the inception of the European Cup in 1956 including Bob Paisley, Brian Clough and Arrigo Sacchi, but who are the greatest managers of the Champions League era?

Here we take look a look at some of the managers who can lay claim to being a true Champions League Immortal - and don’t forget there’s still time to select your all-time XI as BT Sport celebrates 30 years of Europe’s elite club competition.

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Managers with multiple Champions League titles

Carlo Ancelotti

Wins

3

Years won

2003, 2007, 2014

Club(s)

Milan, Real Madrid

Zinedine Zidane

Wins

3

Years won

2016, 2017, 2018

Club(s)

Real Madrid

Ottmar Hitzfeld

Wins

2

Years won

1997, 2001

Club(s)

Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich

Vicente del Bosque

Wins

2

Years won

2000, 2002

Club(s)

Real Madrid

Alex Ferguson

Wins

2

Years won

1999, 2008

Club(s)

Man Utd

Jose Mourinho

Wins

2

Years won

2004, 2010

Club(s)

Porto, Inter Milan

Pep Guardiola

Wins

2

Years won

2009, 2011

Club(s)

Barcelona

Jupp Heynckes

Wins

2

Years won

1998, 2013

Club(s)

Real Madrid, Bayern Munich

Manager

Wins

Years won

Club(s)

Carlo Ancelotti

3

2003, 2007, 2014

Milan, Real Madrid

Zinedine Zidane

3

2016, 2017, 2018

Real Madrid

Ottmar Hitzfeld

2

1997, 2001

Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich

Vicente del Bosque

2

2000, 2002

Real Madrid

Alex Ferguson

2

1999, 2008

Man Utd

Jose Mourinho

2

2004, 2010

Porto, Inter Milan

Pep Guardiola

2

2009, 2011

Barcelona

Jupp Heynckes

2

1998, 2013

Real Madrid, Bayern Munich

Carlo Ancelotti

History-maker Ancelotti has won three Champions League titles and is the first manager to reach five finals.

The Italian led Milan to European glory in 2003 and 2007 and won a third with Real Madrid in 2014.

He is one of only five managers to lift the trophy with two different clubs and is one of only seven men to win the competition as a player and a manager.

The iconic manager could win his fourth title when his Real Madrid side face Liverpool this month and is unquestionably one of the greatest of the modern era.  

Real Madrid’s Ancelotti is the first manager to reach five finals

Zinedine Zidane

Zidane, who served as assistant manager to Ancelotti at Real Madrid, won three successive Champions League titles for Los Blancos in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The legendary Frenchman has also conquered Europe as both a player and manager and is the only coach to win the competition three years in a row.

He managed one of the great Real Madrid sides, featuring Cristiano Ronaldo in the prime of his career alongside a host of star names.

He left the club in 2018 only to return a year later before he departed once again in 2021.

Zidane led Real Madrid to three consecutive Champions League wins

Ottmar Hitzfeld

One of the five coaches to the win the trophy with two different clubs, Hitzfeld guided German giants Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich to European glory in 1997 and 2001 respectively.

Known as The General, he masterminded Dortmund’s historic 3-1 win over Juventus before taking Bayern to their fourth crown in 2001.

He has been named World Manager of the Year twice and is one of the most respected figures in the history of the German game.

Hitzfeld won the competition with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich

Vicente del Bosque

Considered one of the greatest managers of all time, Del Bosque has won the Champions League twice, the World Cup and the European Championship.

He made over 400 appearances for Real Madrid before he coached the club to two European titles in three seasons.

The first triumph came in 2000, a comprehensive 3-0 win over compatriots Valencia in Paris. The second was two years later when Zinedine Zidane scored one of the great Champions League goals against Bayer Leverkusen at Hampden.

He coached one of the most expensively assembled squads of all time and is a bona fide managerial great.

Del Bosque won two Champions League titles in three years with Real Madrid

Alex Ferguson

Man Utd’s greatest ever manager presided over two Champions League wins, including the famous victory over Bayern Munich in 1999.

Two injury time goals from substitutes Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer secured the European Cup in dramatic fashion after Bayern had taken an early lead.

Ferguson’s second triumph came nine years later when his side edged Chelsea in a tense all-English affair in Moscow.

The legendary manager has won a record 114 European Cup and Champions League matches and rightly sits in the pantheon of all-time greats.

Ferguson managed Man Utd to their famous win over Bayern in 1999

Jose Mourinho

The self-proclaimed Special One has left an indelible mark on the Champions League.

He sensationally won the competition with underdogs Porto in 2004, six years before he did it again with Inter to complete the Treble.

Renowned for his tactical prowess and enigmatic persona, the Portuguese coach is in an exclusive group of managers to win the trophy with two different clubs.

The current Roma boss is one of the most decorated bosses of all time and responsible for some of the greatest achievements in the history of the competition.

Mourinho is a legendary figure in Champions League history

Pep Guardiola

Guardiola won the Champions League twice with his all-conquering Barcelona ensemble in 2008 and 2011 but hasn’t won it since despite a series of agonising near misses.

Both victories came against Manchester United, and the Spanish manager has a win percentage of 63% in the competition, a greater percentage than many of his peers.

He has reached six semi-finals since he last won the Champions League and came up short in the final against Chelsea in 2021 as Man City boss.

Guardiola managed one of the greatest ever Barcelona sides to two titles

Jupp Heynckes

Legendary German manager Heynckes guided Real Madrid to their first European Cup triumph in over two decades in 1998 and completed a historic treble with Bayern 15 years later.

The fourth-highest scorer in Bundesliga history masterminded Real’s 1988 triumph, when Predrag Mijatovic scored to seal a famous win over Juventus in Amsterdam.

In 2013, he oversaw Bayern’s win over German rivals Borussia Dortmund, a year after they were beaten by Chelsea on penalties at the Allianz Arena.

Heynckes has won the Champions League with Real Madrid and Bayern Munich

Jurgen Klopp

Klopp is the only manager on the list with one Champions League trophy to his name - but he could win his second if Liverpool beat Real Madrid in this season’s final.

The German was beaten in the 2013 and 2018 finals, but broke his duck when Liverpool beat Tottenham in 2019.

He has revolutionised the club since he arrived at Anfield in 2015 and could become of the greatest Champions League managers of all time.

Klopp will win his second Champions League title if Liverpool beat Real Madrid in this year's final