Helenio Herrera

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Helenio Herrera
Helenio Herrera Elgrafico.jpeg
Herrera covered on Argentine sports magazine
El Gráfico in 1964.
Personal information
Full name Helenio Herrera Gavilán
Date of birth (1910-04-10)10 April 1910
Place of birth Buenos Aires, Argentina
Date of death 9 November 1997(1997-11-09) (aged 87)
Place of death Venice, Italy
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
Roches Noires
1931–1932 RC Casablanca
1932–1933 CASG Paris
1933–1935 Stade Français
1935–1937 Charleville
1937–1939 Excelsior Roubaix
1940–1942 Red Star Olympique
1942–1943 Stade Français
1943–1944 EF Paris-Capitale
1944–1945 Puteaux
Teams managed
1944–1945 Puteaux
1945–1948 Stade Français
1948–1949 Real Valladolid
1949–1952 Atlético Madrid
1952 Málaga
1953 Deportivo de La Coruña
1953–1957 Sevilla
1957–1958 Belenenses
1958–1960 Barcelona
1960–1968 Internazionale
1968–1970 Roma
1973–1974 Internazionale
1978–1979 Rimini
1979–1981 Barcelona

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Helenio Herrera Gavilán (Spanish pronunciation: [eˈlenjo eˈreɾa ɣaβiˈlan]; 10 April 1910 – 9 November 1997) was an Argentine football player and manager. He is best remembered for his tremendous success with the Internazionale team known as "Grande Inter" in the 1960s.

Herrera was born in Argentina to Spanish immigrant parents.

During his managerial career, Herrera won four La Liga titles in Spain (with Atlético Madrid and Barcelona) and three Serie A titles in Italy with Inter. He also guided Inter to European glory, winning two consecutive European Cups, among several other honours. He is regarded as one of the greatest managers of all time.[1]

Herrera was arguably the first manager to collect credit for his teams' performances, in the process becoming a superstar in the world of football. Up to that time, managers were more marginal figures in a team. All teams throughout Europe were known for their headline-grabbing individual players, e.g. Di Stéfano's Real Madrid, whereas Inter during the 1960s is still referred to as Herrera's Inter.

Playing career

Playing as a defender, in 1932 he earned a transfer from RC Casablanca to mainland France – CASG Paris. Before World War II, Herrera (or H.H. as he was known) played in Stade Français, FCO Charleville (where he was called up for the national team twice) and Excelsior Roubaix. During the war, he played for five years more in Red Star Paris, Stade Français, EF Paris-Capitale and Puteaux, where he started his managing career in 1944 as a player-manager. He retired in 1945, and while his playing career was very short of notable successes, his managing career, coinciding with the early beginnings of UEFA competitions, had a marked effect on the game's tactical definitions.

Managing career

After his first season in Puteaux, Herrera rejoined Stade Français for a third time now as manager. After three seasons with no trophies collected, the club's president opted to sell the club. Herrera moved to Spain, where he spent the next six years with Real Valladolid, Atlético Madrid, where he won the championship in 1950 and 1951, CD Málaga, Deportivo de La Coruña and Sevilla, before entering a two-year tenure with Lisbon side Os Belenenses. Later returning to Spain, he managed giants Barcelona, but several problems, including disagreements between him and star player Ladislao Kubala forced him to leave the club in 1960.

He immediately emigrated to Italy and signed with Internazionale, winning two European Champions Cup in his stay with the club, where he modified a 5–3–2 tactic known as the Verrou (door bolt) to include larger flexibility for counter-attacks – and the Catenaccio was born.[2] During this time he was also coaching Spain (between 1959 and 1962) and Italy (1966–67).

In 1968, Herrera moved to Roma, where he became the highest paid manager in the world, with a contract worth an estimated £150,000 per year. He won the Coppa Italia in his first season but relations with club president Alvaro Marchini had already soured over the tragic death of his centre-forward Giuliano Taccola in the team dressing room at an away game against Cagliari. The following season, 1969–70, erratic results in the League gave Marchini the excuse to sack him.

He returned to management for a one-year stint with Inter for the 1973–74 season. Herrera then suffered a heart attack, did not want to coach full-time any more and retired in Venice where he lived the rest of his life. While inactive between 1974 and 1978, Herrera returned briefly during the end of the decade, managing Rimini Calcio and finally ending his career with a return to FC Barcelona for one-and-a-half season in 1980 and 1981.


He pioneered the use of psychological motivating skills – his pep-talk phrases are still quoted today, e.g. "he who doesn't give it all, gives nothing", "with 10 our team plays better than with 11" (after his team had to face the second half of a game with only 10 players on the field) and "Class + Preparation + Intelligence + Athleticism = Championships". These slogans were often plastered on billboards around the ground and chanted by players during training sessions.

He also enforced a strict discipline code, for the first time forbidding players to drink or smoke and controlling their diet – once at Inter he suspended a player after telling the press "we came to play in Rome" instead of "we came to win in Rome". He also sent club personnel to players' homes during the week to perform '"bed-checks"[citation needed]. He introduced the ritiro, a pre-match remote country hotel retreat that started with the collection of players on Thursday to prepare for a Sunday game.

He was also one of the first managers to call on the support of the "12th player" – the spectators. While indirectly, this led to the appearance of the first Ultras movements in the late 60s. While defensive in nature, his understanding of the Catenaccio was slightly different from that practised by other Italian teams and the original Verrou, as he often used the full backs (particularly Giacinto Facchetti) as halfbacks (defensively supported by the libero) to launch faster counter-attacks, a staple of Italian tactics – yet, he never denied the heart of his team relied on defence.

In 2004 Herrera's surviving widow Fiora Gandolfi released a book called Tacalabala. In it was collected sayings, sketches and notes from Herrera's notebooks and journals.[3][4]



Atlético de Madrid


Managerial stats

Nat Team From To Record
G W D L Win % GF GA +/-
France Stade Français 1946 1948 72 34 16 22 47.22% 140 116 +24
Spain Real Valladolid 1948 1949 26 10 2 14 38.46% 38 59 -21
Spain Atlético Madrid 1949 1952 86 48 14 24 55.81% 238 158 +80
Spain Málaga 1952 1952 11 5 1 5 45.45% 20 17 +3
Spain Sevilla 1953 1956 90 47 8 35 52.22% 206 151 +55
Portugal Belenenses 1956 1958 52 25 11 16 48.08% 128 92 +36
Spain Barcelona 1958 1960 60 46 5 9 76.67% 182 54 +128
Italy Internazionale 1960 1968 268 153 74 41 57.09% 485 224 +261
Italy Roma 1968 1973 150 44 61 45 29.33% 154 155 -1
Italy Internazionale 1973 1974 30 12 11 7 40% 47 33 +14
Italy Rimini 1978 1979 38 3 18 17 7.89% 17 39 -22
Spain Barcelona 1979 1981 25 14 5 6 56% 57 28 +29
Total Career 908 441 226 241 48.57% 1712 1126 +586


Helenio Herrera was nicknamed il Mago (the Wizard) and H.H. (from the initials of his name) by Italian sports journalists (who recognized him as one of the finest coaches in Italian football history) because on occasion he would provocatively announce the results of Sunday's games and often his prediction turned out to be correct. He is unrelated with the less famous Heriberto Herrera, another football coach who directed Juventus and Inter in the same years.


  1. "Greatest Managers, No. 5: Herrera". Retrieved 7 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Fox, Norman (11 November 1997). "Obituary: Helenio Herrera – Obituaries, News". The Independent. UK. Retrieved 22 April 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Fiora Gandofi – books" (in italiano). Fioragandolfi.it. 29 April 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Herrera's creative engine room: God, Freud and Yoga – Professor Champions League". FourFourTwo. 20 January 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Hall of fame, 10 new entry: con Vialli e Mancini anche Facchetti e Ronaldo" (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2015. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Nereo Rocco
European Cup Winning Coach
1963–64 & 1964–65
Succeeded by
Miguel Muñoz