After riding the emotional roller coaster of a highly charged UEFA Champions League match more than 100 times, a coach could be forgiven for becoming a touch numb to the thrill of the continent's premier club competition.
It seems, however, that the sheer sporting challenge of pitting your wits against Europe's best over 90 minutes or more means that those who have occupied a privileged perch in the dugout on countless occasions have yet to have their thirst quenched.
"The format is fantastic," said two-time UEFA Champions League winner Sir Alex Ferguson, who has overseen 187 games in the competition as Manchester United FC manager. "You have all the best teams there; all the teams you dreamed about playing against are all there. So over the years since the Champions League started, we've played AC Milan I think eight times, we've played Real Madrid I think six times, Barcelona maybe seven times.
"As a coach, when you get that opportunity to be involved in games like that over a long period, and the number of times you play them, it's absolutely fantastic. The atmosphere, the challenge, the different philosophies, the different cultures – that's the speciality of the Champions League."
Sir Alex is the senior figure in an exclusive club of four men who have reached three figures coaching in the tournament. The newest, and youngest, member is José Mourinho, the only one of the quartet to have won with two different clubs – FC Porto and FC Internazionale Milano.
The Portuguese's celebratory dash down the touch line at Old Trafford en route to winning his first title with Porto reflected the passion he still shows to this day. He marked his century when his current charges Real Madrid CF qualified for this season's knockout stages with a draw at Manchester City FC on 21 November. Their quest for a tenth European Cup, and Mourinho's third, continues.
"It's something I would like to achieve – without it being an obsession, just with the passion to play these games at an extraordinary level, games that you never forget," said the 49-year-old. "Winning a Champions League trophy is something that truly has an impact on people, the fans of clubs that are lucky enough to win it. And until the end of my career I will be trying to win it one more time, but without it being an obsession in any way."
Carlo Ancelotti, another UEFA Champions League centurion, twice lifted the European Champion Clubs' Cup as a player with AC Milan before taking the Rossoneri to Europe's ultimate club triumph twice as a coach. "The most important and exciting games are in the Champions League, because you have to do well every game," said Ancelotti, who has guided Paris Saint-Germain FC into the last 16 this term. "If you lose, if you don't play well in one game, if you're not focused in one game, you are out of the Champions League."
That is a feeling even the brightest and best of the coaching fraternity will endure at some point in their careers. With only one man able to emerge victorious, those who risk their reputations with a tactical tweak or an inspired substitution also provide each other with a shoulder to cry on and advice to learn from.
"Basically we all want to win all our games, and when that doesn't happen we help each other to understand why it doesn't happen," said Arsenal FC's Arsène Wenger, who celebrates his 150th UEFA Champions League fixture at Olympiacos FC on Tuesday.
"What is also very important to notice is how to improve the game, how to improve the competitions. We also try to understand how the world around us evolves, and how we have to adapt to improve our behaviour, and how can we stay at the top of our job by responding well to these new demands."
Coach records – UEFA Champions League (group stage to final)
P112 W57 D29 L26
Win percentage: 51%
1st match: 17/09/1997 AC Sparta Praha 0-0 Parma FC
50th match: 23/02/2005 Manchester United FC 0-1 AC Milan
100th match: 19/10/2010 FC Spartak Moskva 0-2 Chelsea FC
Sir Alex Ferguson
P187 W102 D48 L37
Win percentage: 55%
1st match: 14/09/1994 Manchester United FC 4-2 IFK Göteborg
50th match: 13/09/2000 Manchester United 5-1 RSC Anderlecht
100th match: 25/02/2004 FC Porto 2-1 Manchester United FC
150th match: 15/04/2009 FC Porto 0-1 Manchester United FC
P100 W54 D26 L20
Win percentage: 54%
1st match: 19/02/02, Real Madrid CF 1-0 FC Porto
50th match: 18/09/07, Chelsea FC 1-1 Rosenborg BK
100th match: 21/11/12, Manchester City FC 1-1 Real Madrid CF
P149 W68 D39 L42
Win percentage: 46%
1st match: 24/11/93, AS Monaco FC 4-1 FC Spartak Moskva
50th match: 30/10/02, Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Arsenal FC
100th match: 07/11/07, SK Slavia Praha 0-0 Arsenal FC
UEFA has no formal acknowledgement for players or coaches reaching appearance or goalscoring landmarks in UEFA club competitions. As the only exception, Sir Alex Ferguson was presented with a symbolic mark of recognition in 2004 for being the first coach to reach the 100 mark in the UEFA Champions League.
As several more coaches have in the meantime reached 100 matches in charge in UEFA club competitions, the UEFA President has announced that he will consider a proposal to be submitted to the UEFA Executive Committee for the creation of a formal mark of recognition for all these cases. The formal programme may also include recognition for players reaching similar landmarks in UEFA club competitions.
© 1998-2013 UEFA. All rights reserved.