Atletico Madrid has seen a long list of managers make their way to the club, all of which have had varying success. Some lasted for just a few months before they were sacked while others had years of sustained success. When talking about the latter category, there are a few names that really stand out above the rest. Here are our selections for the five best managers in Atletico Madrid history.
Argentinian Helenio Herrera had an extensive playing career that lasted from 1931 to 1945, and he had stints with several teams including Stade Francais, Red Star Olympique, and Charleville. At the end of his playing career, Herrera also managed Puteaux, then returned to Stade Francais as a manager when his playing days ended. Herrera then had a short stay with Real Valladolid for a year, becoming the manager of Atletico Madrid from 1949 to 1952.
Herrera won the Copa Eva Duarte in 1950 while also winning La Liga in back-to-back years in 1950 and 1951. The Italian Football Hall of Fame inductee is named one of the greatest managers in football history, and he would go on to lead other clubs that included Barcelona, Inter Milan, and Roma until his retirement in 1981.
Quique Sanchez Flores
Quique Sanchez Flores was born in Madrid, though he never spent any of his playing days with Atletico. Instead, he started his professional career with a decade as a member of Valencia, then during the mid-1990s ended his career with Real Madrid and Zaragoza. Upon retiring in 1997, Flores became a manager and led Getafe, Valencia, and Benfica during the 2000s. In 2009, he became the manager of Atletico Madrid where he remained until heading to Al-Ahli in 2011.
Though his time was brief and league play was less than ideal, there was still a lot of success for Flores. Under Flores, Atletico Madrid won the 2009-10 UEFA Europa League title and the 2010 Super Cup. He nearly won the 2009-10 Copa del Rey as well. Flores continued his managerial career for many other clubs after Atletico Madrid, as well, including multiple runs with Watford. And one with Espanyol.
Another native of Madrid, Luis Aragones was born in 1938 and spent the first seven years of his playing career with eight different clubs. This includes Betis, where he spent the most matches outside of his run with Atletico Madrid. Aragones became a prolific scorer for Atletico when he joined the squad in 1964, spending a decade with the team before retiring in 1974 and taking over as the club’s manager.
Aragones had seven different stints as Atletico Madrid’s manager, with the last one coming between 2001 and 2003. During those stints, Aragones won La Liga once while also winning three Copa del Rey titles. He added a Supercopa de Espana, Intercontinental Cup, and Segunda Division to his trophy case, too.
The second spot on the list belongs to the late Radomir Antic, the only member of the list to not come from Argentina or Spain. Antic was born in Yugoslavia and spent his playing days with Sloboda Uzice, Partizan, Fenerbahce, Real Zaragoza, and Luton Town. Antic retired in 1984 after a 17-year career, taking over as an assistant for Partizan before his first managerial job with Zaragoza from 1988 to 1990.
After managing Real Madrid and Real Oviedo between 1991 and 1995, Antic had three stints as Atletico Madrid’s manager between 1995 and 2000. Antic won the Copa del Rey and La Liga early on in his managerial run with the club while also winning the Don Balon Award. Antic then returned to Real Oviedo before managing Barcelona and several other squads before his 2015 retirement.
Without a doubt, the top spot on the list has to belong to the man who has spent more time as Atletico Madrid’s manager than anybody else. In March 2023, Argentinian Diego Simeone passed Luis Aragones for the record. Simeone had a playing career that lasted from 1987 until 2006, making appearances for the likes of Inter Milan and Lazio, but of course, Atletico Madrid.
Simeone then managed six different clubs between 2006 and 2011 before taking over at Atletico Madrid and cementing his status as the club’s greatest-ever manager. Simeone has won multiple La Liga titles as well as the Copa del Rey. Other honours include the UEFA Super Cup and UEFA Europa League multiple times on his way to becoming the winningest manager Atletico has seen.