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SL's Top Managers: 3- Helenio Herrera

Legendary Inter Milan and Barcelona manager, Helenio Herrera, is another man you have probably never even heard of.

But that does not mean he does not warrant his place among the greatest football managers of all time.

Argentinian by birth, Herrera died in Italy in 1997 at the age of 87.

He left behind him a ground breaking football legacy, pioneering the use of psychology in football, and championing the principles of a healthy diet and clean living for professional athletes.

Until Herrera, the concept of a team secreting itself away for a few days to prepare for matches was unheard of.

And his early use of pep talks and motivational phrases is now common place in sport.

A defender during his playing career from 1931 to 1945, Herrera went from the Moroccan top flight to France with little success.

But when he took up management after World War II, he embarked upon a career that would change football forever.

South African fans would probably joke that Herrera was a regular visitor to the sangoma.

He was idiosyncratic, and according to Football Pantheon “would gather his players in a circle and walk into the centre with a pristine white ball in his hands. The squad would then extend their fingers towards it and chant “It’s the European Cup! We must have it! We shall have it! Ah! Ah! Ah!”

But when the manager known as ‘The Wizard’ and ‘The Magician’ applied his quirky methods to the talented players he had at his disposal, he revolutionised football.

From 1944 to 1981, Herrera managed 13 teams, the biggest of which were Valladolid, Atletico Madrid, Malaga, Deportivo La Coruna, Sevilla and Barcelona in Spain, as well as Inter Milan and Roma in Italy.

At Barca he won six trophies in two stints. Incredibly, in the 1958-59 season Barca scored 96 goals in 30 games under Herrera, due to his then unique attacking system of flying wing-backs.

But it was in Italy, as manager of ‘Grande Inter’, that Herrera made his lasting impact on football.

There he facilitated the birth of the classical Italian system of ‘catenaccio’ by allowing for a more flexible use of the 5-3-2 system, and in conjunction with his use of psychology, discipline and science, won three Scudettos and two European Cups.

It was Herrera’s ability to change his tactical philosophies so radically that marked him out for greatness.

He was a visionary and ahead of his time, and his 13-trophy haul does not do justice to the lasting impact he had on the beautiful game.

10- Munoz; 9- Clough; 8- Hitzfeld; 7- Guardiola; 6- Mourinho; 5- Paisley; 4- Michels; 3- Herrera

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