Bela Guttmann is number 24 in 90min's Top 50 Great Managers of All Time series. Follow the rest of the series over the course of the next five weeks. You can find Guttmann's career overview here.
Who do you pick for the man who managed everyone?
Actually, Bela Guttmann made this XI relatively easy – mostly by not managing that many good teams. When he did, though, they had some absolute corkers. Using something vaguely along the lines of the 4-2-4 formation he popularised in Brazil (I said vaguely; there's a sweeper and all), here's his best team...
Goalkeeper and Defenders
Lorenzo Buffon (GK) – Not Gigi's dad (or granddad), but a stonkingly good goalkeeper in his own right. An AC Milan hall of famer, he won Serie A titles either side of Guttmann's spell at San Siro (four in total, five if you include the one at Inter in the 60s).
Unless someone's gone back and changed all the records and accounts from the time, Buffon was one of the best goalkeepers of the decade – and certainly the best who Guttmann managed.
Oh, and he is Gigi Buffon's grandfather...'s cousin. And he also never won a European Cup, despite his side reaching the final in 1959 – honestly, what's with that family?
Cesare Maldini (SW) – Speaking of families...
Yeah! Paolo Maldini's old man! Wild! An astonishingly good defender in his own right (taking the sweeper spot in this team, thanks for asking) Maldini won four Serie A titles at Milan – like Buffon, either side of Guttmann's relatively short tenure.
Well, sort of. Given that Guttmann's Milan were top 19 games into the '54/55 season, when they won the title, it feels harsh not to give him at least a little bit of credit for that too...
Mario Joao (DF) – One of the last great semi-professional footballers, Mario Joao won the European Cup – twice! – while making most of his living from a Portuguese chemicals company.
A versatile outside defender, Joao didn't actually play a great deal of games in his career; he was just really good at making his appearances count. He left the club at the same time at Guttmann, going back to G.D. CUF in 1962.
Ângelo (DF) – Ângelo Martins, with a little hat on the 'a' because he's a baller, played at Benfica under Guttmann – and under every other Benfica manager throughout his playing career, because he was a one-club man.
A left-sided player who played more of his career as a defender, Ângelo played both of the European Cup finals that Benfica won – and had a hand in about seventeen thousand Portuguese league titles. Benfica were good in the 60s.
Domiciano Cavém (MF) – A forward? A midfielder? A defender? A...well, more or less anything except a goalkeeper. Cavém started his Benfica career as a striker/winger hybrid, scored the Portuguese Cup final's fastest ever goal, ended up playing as a midfielder, right and left-back. Two European Cups. Could do anything. Profile would've looked absolutely mad on Football Manager.
Fernando Cruz (MF) – The kinda-left-sided kinda-midfielder started in front of Benfica's nominal front three in both of their European Cup wins under Guttmann, played at the club for almost his entire career until a late-life move to PSG, and balled out. Hell yeah.
József Bozsik (MF) – NOT the man the Bostik Premier was named after, but WAS one of the best of a legendary generation of Hungarian players; a deep playmaker who used to spray passes all over the shop for his teammate and best friend Ferenc Puskás for both Honved and Hungary.
Won the Hungarian league five times and the Olympics once, which is pretty handy.
Ferenc Puskás (FW) – Alright, so Puskas was directly responsible for the end of Bela Guttmann's first spell at Honved – not least because the Magical Magyars star was managed by his father before the Hungarian arrived. It's fair to say he was...indulged, a little.
He was on his way out of Hungary when Guttmann returned to the club and they never really overlapped again, but...look, he was one of the best players of all time. And he played under Guttmann. He's in the team.
Oh, and he scored a hat-trick against Guttmann's Benfica side in the 1962 European Cup final. Lost 5-3. Gutted.
Sándor Kocsis (FW) – Sandor Kocsis scored goals.
- Sandor Kocsis scored 75 goals in 68 international appearances for Hungary.
- In 1954, Sandor Kocsis scored 23 goals in 14 international appearances for Hungary.
- At the 1954 FIFA World Cup, Sandor Kocsis scored 11 goals in five games.
Sandor Kocsis scored goals.
Gunnar Nordahl (FW) – Gunnar Nordahl? Also scored goals. Like, this forward line just has such a staggering number of goals in it, it's hard to put into words. Nordahl held the single-season scoring record in Serie A for 66 years, until Gonzalo Higuain broke it in 2016.
AC Milan's record goalscorer, legend, Capocannoniere four times between 1950 and 1955 (including both the seasons when Guttmann was at the club). Good at football.
Eusebio (FW) – Right...this is getting a bit silly really, isn't it? This is four of 90min's top 40 footballers of all time, in one forward line. Including the one who's literally Eusebio, who scored the winning and sealing goals in a 5-3 European Cup final victory over Real Madrid...at the age of 20.
You want more? 11 Portuguese league titles, the Ballon d'Or, the inaugural European Golden Boot, Golden Boot at the '66 World Cup, 473 goals in 440 games for Benfica, astonishing, astonishing, astonishing, astonishing.
And Guttmann signed him.
Number 36: Viktor Maslov: Dedushka's All-Time Best XI
Number 28: Jock Stein: Big Jock's All-Time Best XI
Number 25: Mario Zagallo: Velho Lobo's All-Time Best XI