|Date of birth||20 May 1912|
|Place of birth||Trieste, Austria-Hungary|
|Date of death||20 February 1979(aged 66)|
|Place of death||Trieste, Italy|
|Playing position||Midfielder, Forward|
|1942–1943||94° Reparto Distretto Trieste||-||(-)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Nereo Rocco (20 May 1912 – 20 February 1979) was an Italian association football player and manager. Regarded as one of the greatest managers of all time, he is famous for having been one of the most successful head coaches in Italy, winning several domestic and international titles during his tenure with A.C. Milan. At Padova, he was one of the first proponents of catenaccio in the country.
Rocco played as a winger in midfield; he had a modest playing career, spent mainly with Triestina, Napoli and Padova. He played 287 Serie A matches within 11 seasons, scoring 69 goals. Rocco was also capped one time for the Italy national football team.
Rocco made his coaching debut for Triestina in 1947. He obtained a surprising second place in Serie A, which is still the highest result ever reached by the team. He left Triestina a few years later because of disagreements with the club chairmanship. In 1951 he briefly coached Treviso, then returning to Triestina.
In 1953 Rocco signed as coach of Serie B team Padova, being able to avoid a relegation and obtaining promotion into Serie A the following season. The Serie A period of Rocco's Padova is still remembered as the team's most successful in their history, despite having a small team, they were able to take third place during the 1957–58 season.
In 1961, Rocco was appointed as new A.C. Milan coach, starting one of the most successful periods for the rossoneri: he built a hard-working and defensively sound side around the team's young star playmaker, Gianni Rivera, which complemented the midfielders' creative playing style; Rocco formed an important relationship with Rivera throughout his career, and together, they played a key role in the club's successes, winning the Italian league in 1962 and the European Cup in 1963. After a good stint at Torino, where he obtained the best results since the disappearance of the Grande Torino, in 1967 Rocco returned to Milan, where he immediately won another scudetto and the Cup Winners' Cup.
He left Milan in 1973, after having won also another European Cup in 1969, an Intercontinental Cup, an Italian Cup and another Cup Winners' Cup. After one year in Fiorentina, Rocco decided to end his coaching career in 1974. In 1977, he was appointed by Milan as Technical Director and Assistant of coach Nils Liedholm. Rocco is Milan's longest-serving manager, managing the club for 459 matches (323 as head coach and 136 as technical director).
Death and Legacy
- Italian League (2): 1961–62, 1967–68
- Italian Cup (3): 1971–72, 1972–73, 1976–77
- European Cup (2): 1962–63, 1968–69
- UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (2): 1967–68, 1972–73
- Intercontinental Cup (1): 1969
- Seminatore d'Oro: 1962–63
- Italian Football Hall of Fame: 2012
- World Soccer Magazine Greatest Managers of All Time (Nominated): 2013
- Jamie Rainbow (4 July 2013). "The Greatest manager of all time". World Soccer. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
- Andrea Schianchi (2 November 2014). "Nereo Rocco, l'inventore del catenaccio che diventò Paròn d'Europa" (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
- "Rocco, Nereo" (in Italian). enciclopediadelcalcio.it. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
- "Nereo Rocco" (in Italian). Storie di Calcio. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
- "RIVERA Gianni: Golden Boy per sempre - 2" (in Italian). Storie di Calcio. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- "Quanto ci manca Rocco" (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. 20 February 2004. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
- "Stadio Nereo Rocco" (in Italian). Sport, Comune di Trieste. 31 January 2014. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
- "BARESI, CAPELLO AND RIVERA ACCEPTED IN HALL OF FAME". acmilan.com. 26 November 2013. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
- Jamie Rainbow (4 July 2013). "The Greatest Manager of all time". World Soccer.
- Jamie Rainbow (2 July 2013). "The Greatest XI: how the panel voted". World Soccer.