Do International Managers Really Have To Be From The SAME Country? (Explained)

Last updated on December 1st, 2022

International football is quite different from club football for several reasons. Several factors cause this, including the way teams are structured and the management players receive.

As a result of the relatively short periods of time teams spend together on national assignments, they need to have managers who can relate with them beyond the confines of a football pitch.

Due to this, it is quite normal to see former players take over as managers after they conclude their playing careers. 

As an avid football fan and follower, it is expected that you would have seen quite a number of managers of national teams who hail from the country they manage. Similarly, several international managers work in foreign countries different from their own.

Here’s what you need to know about the rules regarding international managers and their nationality.

Do international managers have to be from the same country?

There is no rule in football that mandates national football associations only to appoint their citizens as managers of their national team. As a result, it is the norm for countries to consider managers from all over the world when deciding on who the manager of their national team should be.

National teams can have managers who come from the same country or can appoint foreigners as managers. 

You can find out the differences between a manager and a coach here.

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There are several examples of managers who managed foreign national teams, including Jurgen Klinsmann, Carlos Queiroz, Sven-Göran Eriksson, and many others.

Other managers such as Didier Deschamps, Roberto Mancini, Luiz Felipe Scolari, and Lionel Scaloni, to name a few, have successfully managed the national teams of their own countries.

Why don’t some countries have local managers?

In selecting a national team manager, some important factors are considered. This includes the experience level and exposure of the manager the country wants to appoint. Also, many times, national teams appoint coaches based on the pedigree they have attained during their managerial careers

You can find out more about why a manager gets sacked here.

Spain, for example, hired Luis Enrique after he proved his quality and ability as a manager during his time with FC Barcelona. Similarly, Italy employed Roberto Mancini as their manager after his club-level exploits. 

Usually, countries choose to turn to foreign managers when they feel like their local managers cannot produce the kind of quality they require.

This is especially common among the supposedly ‘weaker’ footballing countries, such as those in Africa, Asia, and some parts of Europe. 

Domestic managers in many of these nations lack the qualification and experience required to lead their national team to glory in football competitions.

As a result, the governing bodies of such countries’ football opt for foreign managers.

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For instance, Italy’s 2006 FIFA World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro was employed to manage the Chinese national team in the past. Another veteran manager, Marcello Lippi, has also been in charge of the same national team in the past. 

In Africa, managers like Carlos Queiroz, Gernot Rohr, Paul Put, Claude Le Roy, and many others have taken up managerial roles in several countries. 

The appointment of Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2003 by Portugal is another example of how national teams tend to look beyond their borders for good managers.

The Brazilian had led his country to glory in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, and this brought him to the notice of Portugal as they were trying to achieve success with their national team.

In contrast to how football’s minnows appoint managers from foreign countries, giants of international football often rely on local managers who have proven themselves to be among the best in the world.

Most times, these “local” managers must have worked in some of Europe’s top leagues or competitions and must have worked with some of the world’s best talents.

In addition, most of these countries usually have top-quality teams in their domestic leagues. As a result, a manager that works in these leagues would’ve developed properly and faced high-level opposition. 

The top national teams employ only the best managers to work for them, and many times, these managers are usually from the same country.

Germany manager Hansi Flick, for example, won more trophies in his 18-month stint as Bayern Munich manager than he has letters in his name!

His success as a club-level manager with one of Europe’s best sides made him the best candidate for the national team job whenever he wished to take it.

He had also worked as an assistant manager for the national team in the past, adding to his qualification for the job.

African side Senegal also appointed former captain Aliou Cisse as the national team manager after the conclusion of his playing career, and the manager successfully led the nation to its first-ever Africa Cup Nations title. 

Notable international managers who did not manage their country

There are several good examples of managers who did not manage their own national team but travelled beyond their shores to become successful managers with other national teams. Here are a few examples of managers who did not manage their own national team.

Manager #1: Herve Renard

French manager Herve Renard is not quite popular among European football fans. In the African continent, it’s quite a different story as he is regarded as one of the best managers ever to set foot in the continent.

The former FC Sochaux manager led Zambia’s national team to glory in the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 and Cote d’Ivoire to glory in the same competition in 2015.

As a result, he became the first manager to win the African Cup of Nations with two different countries.

Manager #2: Otto Renhagel

German manager Otto Renhagel enjoyed a trophy-laden career in the 1980s and 1990s managing teams in the German Bundesliga. He won trophies as manager of Werder Bremen, Fortuna Dusseldorf and 1. FC Kaiserslautern and also managed Bayern Munich.

His biggest trophy, however, came when he led an unheralded Greece side to win the 2004 UEFA European Championship in Portugal, defeating favourites such as France and Portugal en route to winning the trophy.

Manager #3: Jorge Sampaoli

After achieving success as manager of Universidad de Chile, Argentine manager Jorge Sampaoli was named manager of the Chile national team in 2012. It took him only three years to etch his name in Chilean football’s Hall of Fame as he led La Roja to their first-ever international trophy, the Copa America, in 2015 at the expense of his native Argentina.

Another Argentine manager, Juan Antonio Pizzi, led La Roja to the 2016 Copa America Centenario trophy at the expense of Argentina once more.


International football is quite a different ball game from club-level football, and the criteria that determine the appointment of managers by national teams differ from one country to the other.

Local managers are only preferred when it is absolutely certain that they have the experience and pedigree required to lead the team to the best possible result.

However, some smaller countries opt for foreign managers when they wish to try and establish themselves as ‘top’ sides on the international stage!

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