Ryan Mason And Others Who Became Coaches After Playing Careers Ended Prematurely

The former midfielder will manage Tottenham aged just 29
17:00, 20 Apr 2021

Ryan Mason will take interim charge of Tottenham when they host Southampton on Wednesday night before facing Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final. That would be immense pressure for any manager but the former Spurs midfielder will take the hot seat left by Jose Mourinho during a week in which the north London club have signed up to a controversial European Super League.

It’s a lot to deal with, especially when you consider Mason doesn’t turn 30 until June and will become the youngest coach in Premier League history. He was still playing at 25 having left Tottenham for Hull in the summer of 2016 before a horrendous injury suffered in January 2017 at Chelsea forced him to retire a year later.

When he made his first-team Spurs debut in 2008 in the UEFA Cup, he would have envisaged still playing professionally now, but suffered a fractured skull following a clash of heads with Gary Cahill. Joining the coaching staff at Tottenham in April 2018, now, he is on the touchline.

Here are three other examples of coaches he will be hoping to follow, who became brilliant tacticians after seeing their playing careers cut short by injury.


Brendan Rodgers


The Leicester manager represented Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland at schoolboy level and the young defender was signed by Reading when he was 18 in 1990. However, due to a genetic knee condition, he was forced to hang up his boots at 20.

He played non-league football but began coaching youth players with the Royals. Some years later, after travelling and studying different coaching methods, he was appointed Chelsea’s head youth coach in 2004 after Steve Clarke recommended him to Jose Mourinho.

He then managed Watford, returned to Reading and Swansea before nearly winning the Premier League title with Liverpool in 2014 and is now taking Leicester to this season’s FA Cup final while a place in the top four is in the Foxes’ hands.


Julian Nagelsmann


The German will turn 34 in July but already has a fierce reputation in the game, linked to the Bayern Munich job and, along with Rodgers, the Spurs gig. Managing Hoffenheim between 2016 and 2019, he is currently enjoying a 60 per cent win percentage with RB Leipzig.

Playing youth football for Augsburg and 1860 Munich he made the jump to the second team but was sidelined through injury. Returning to his first club Augsburg, he damaged his knee and decided to call time on his career as a player in 2008.

Working as a scout under Thomas Tuchel, now Chelsea boss, he studied sports science at university before going back to 1860 Munich to work as an assistant with the club’s Under-17 side before switching to Hoffenheim in 2010 and working his way up through the ranks. 

With such a massive reputation already, expect him to be comfortably in one of the top jobs by the time he is 35.


Rafa Benitez


One of the most revered coaches of the 21st century, enjoying success with Valencia and Liverpool while also winning silverware with Chelsea, Inter and Napoli played for Real Madrid’s reserves in his late teens and early twenties before also managing the Spanish giants in 2015.

As a player, he was injured following a challenge during a game against Canada at the World Student Games in Mexico in 1979 which ruled him out for a year. Injury issues continued to blight his career and he missed much of the 1985-86 season for Linares and retired that campaign

Earning a physical education degree in 1982, he had always been a student of the game and four years later was appointed Real’s reserve coach, winning two titles in 1987 and 1989. He later guided Valencia to the La Liga title in 2002 and 2004 before he left for Anfield and inspired the Reds to the Champions League in 2005. He most recently spent two years in China after managing Newcastle.

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