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Kovács in 1971
|Full name||Ștefan Kovács|
|Date of birth||2 October 1920|
|Place of birth||Timișoara, Romania|
|Date of death||12 May 1995(aged 74)|
|Place of death||Cluj-Napoca, Romania|
|1941–1942||CFR Turnu Severin|
|1942–1947||Kolozsvári AC / Ferar Cluj||93||(8)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Ștefan Kovács (Romanian: Ştefan Covaci; Hungarian: Kovács István; 2 October 1920 – 12 May 1995) was a Romanian football player and coach. By winning 15 major titles he is one of the most successful association football coaches in the history of the game. In 2019, France Football ranked him at No. 43 on their list of the Top 50 football managers of all time.
Born into an ethnic Hungarian family in Timișoara, Romania, Kovács was an average midfielder, although having both individual technique and tactical intuition. He was never selected to play for Romania unlike his older brother Nicolae Kovács, who was one of the five players who participated at all three World Cups before the Second World War.
Kovács had his first major coaching successes at the helm of Steaua București, where he won between 1967 and 1971 once the championship and three times the cup of Romania.
After this he succeeded Rinus Michels as the head of Ajax in 1971, continuing and expanding on his "total football" philosophy. With Ajax he achieved in 1972 and 1973, two consecutive European Champions Cups. In 1972, he even won the Intercontinental Cup and also the first edition of European Supercup (1973). Further to that he led Ajax to the double of cup and championship in 1972 and another national championship in 1973.
After he left Ajax in 1973, he was called up by the French football federation to take the reins of the national side. In this position he raised the young generations of French talents. Journalists of France Football asked him when he arrived how long it would take to make the France team a great team, he replied visionary with structures in eight years, ten years, we can make a good national team. Michel Hidalgo, his deputy and successor, took advantage of this work and continued to lead the team of France to its victory at Euro 84. Kovács remains the only foreign manager of the French national side.
He died on 12 May 1995, twelve days before Ajax won their fourth European Cup.
- Universitatea Cluj
- Steaua București
- World Soccer 36th Greatest Manager of All Time: 2013
- France Football 43rd Greatest Manager of All Time: 2019
- Ștefan Kovács at RomanianSoccer.ro (in Romanian) and StatisticsFootball.com
- "Doliu în fotbalul românesc! A murit ultimul supraviețuitor din primul Derby de România" [Mourning in Romanian football! The last survivor of the first Romanian Derby died] (in Romanian). Gsp.ro. 2 January 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
- "Negyven éve: két magyar az Európa-válogatottban" (in Hungarian). MLSZ.
- "Top 50 football managers of all-time: Agree with France Football's list? Sir Alex Ferguson and Pep Guardiola in top 10". www.sportinglife.com. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
- "Ștefan Kovács, antrenorul timișorean care a cucerit de două ori Cupa Campionilor. Cum a scris istorie la cârma marelui Ajax" [Ștefan Kovács, the coach from Timisoara who won the Champions Cup twice. How he wrote history at the helm of the great Ajax] (in Romanian). Pressalert.ro. 20 January 2018. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
- "Top 50 des coaches de l'historie". France Football. 19 March 2019. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
- "The 50 best coaches in history, according to 'France Football'". BeSoccer. 29 March 2019. Retrieved 6 December 2019.