How Philippe Clement went from engineering student to Rangers’ mastermind

Philippe Clement is the man who has led Rangers to the top of the Scottish Premiership, breaking Celtic’s dominance and earning praise from fans and pundits alike. But how did he become one of the most successful managers in Europe? Here is his remarkable story, from his humble beginnings as an engineering student to his glory days at Ibrox.

A promising player with a passion for learning

Philippe Clement was born in Antwerp, Belgium, on 22 March 1974. He started playing football at a young age and joined the youth academy of Genk, one of the top clubs in his country. He made his debut for the senior team in 1992, aged 18, and soon established himself as a versatile defender who could also play in midfield.

Clement was not only a talented footballer, but also a keen student. He enrolled in a civil engineering course at the University of Leuven, juggling his studies with his football career. He graduated with a master’s degree in 1997, becoming one of the few professional players to hold such a qualification.

A move to England and a return to Belgium

Clement’s performances for Genk attracted the attention of several clubs across Europe, and in 1998 he moved to England to join Coventry City in the Premier League. He spent one season with the Sky Blues, making 23 appearances and scoring one goal.

However, he did not settle well in England and decided to return to Belgium in 1999, signing for Club Brugge, where he would spend the next eight years of his career. He became a key player and a leader for the club, winning two league titles, three Belgian Cups, and four Belgian Super Cups. He also played in the Champions League and the UEFA Cup, facing teams like Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Liverpool.

Philippe Clement inside

Clement also earned 38 caps for the Belgian national team, representing his country at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups and the 2000 European Championship.

A transition to coaching and a mentorship from Preud’homme

Clement retired from playing in 2007, aged 33, and immediately joined the coaching staff of Club Brugge as an assistant manager. He worked under several head coaches, including Jacky Mathijssen, Georges Leekens, and Juan Carlos Garrido, but it was under Michel Preud’homme that he learned the most.

Preud’homme, a former Belgian goalkeeper and a legend in his country, took over Club Brugge in 2013 and appointed Clement as his right-hand man. Together, they led the club to a league title in 2016, their first in 11 years, and a Belgian Cup in 2015. Clement also completed his UEFA Pro Licence, the highest coaching qualification in Europe, under Preud’homme’s guidance.

Preud’homme praised Clement for his intelligence, work ethic, and tactical acumen, and encouraged him to pursue his own managerial career. Clement said that Preud’homme was like a father figure to him, and that he owed him a lot for his development as a coach.

A successful spell at Genk and a return to Club Brugge

In December 2017, Clement left Club Brugge to take his first head coaching job at Genk, his former club as a player. He inherited a team that was struggling in the league, but he managed to turn things around and finish fifth in his first season.

In his second season, he led Genk to their fourth league title in their history, playing an attractive and attacking style of football that earned them many admirers. He also gave opportunities to young and talented players, such as Sander Berge, Leandro Trossard, and Ally Samatta, who would later move to bigger clubs.

In May 2019, Clement decided to leave Genk and return to Club Brugge, this time as the head coach. He said that it was a difficult decision, but that he felt a strong connection with Club Brugge and wanted to continue the legacy of Preud’homme.

He proved to be a successful appointment, as he won the league title in his first season, and repeated the feat in his second season, despite the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. He also guided Club Brugge to the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time in 15 years, where they faced Manchester United.

A surprise move to Monaco and a departure after 18 months

In January 2022, Clement shocked the Belgian football scene by leaving Club Brugge and joining Monaco, one of the biggest clubs in France. He signed a three-and-a-half-year contract and said that he was ready for a new challenge in his career.

He took over a Monaco team that was in a state of transition, having lost many of their star players in recent years, such as Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva, and Fabinho. He managed to finish third in his first half-season, qualifying for the Champions League, and also reached the final of the French Cup, where they lost to Paris Saint-Germain.

However, his second season was less successful, as he struggled to find consistency and stability in his team. He faced criticism from the fans and the media, who expected more from him and his players. He also had a difficult relationship with some of his senior players, such as Cesc Fabregas, Wissam Ben Yedder, and Aleksandr Golovin, who were unhappy with his tactics and his rotation policy.

He was sacked by Monaco in June 2023, after finishing sixth in the league and failing to qualify for any European competition. He left the club with a record of 40 wins, 18 draws, and 24 losses in 82 games.

A fresh start at Rangers and a return to winning ways

In October 2023, Clement was announced as the new manager of Rangers, the Scottish giants who had sacked Michael Beale earlier that month. He signed a three-and-a-half-year contract and said that he was honoured and excited to join one of the most iconic clubs in Europe.

He inherited a Rangers team that was joint-second in the Premiership, seven points behind Celtic, the reigning champions and their fierce rivals. He also had to deal with the pressure and the expectations of the fans, who had not seen their team win the league title since 2011.

However, Clement proved to be the perfect fit for Rangers, as he quickly imposed his philosophy and his personality on the team. He improved the defence, the midfield, and the attack, and made some smart signings, such as Mohamed Diomande, a versatile midfielder who scored some spectacular goals. He also gave confidence and freedom to his existing players, such as James Tavernier, Alfredo Morelos, and Ryan Kent, who flourished under his management.

He led Rangers to a remarkable run of form, winning 18 of his first 20 league games, and drawing the other two. He also beat Celtic twice, once at Ibrox and once at Celtic Park, ending their unbeaten run in the Old Firm derby. He also guided Rangers to the last 16 of the Europa League, where they faced Napoli.

By February 2024, Clement had taken Rangers to the top of the Premiership, four points clear of Celtic, with a game in hand. He had also won the hearts and the minds of the Rangers fans, who chanted his name and praised his style of play. He had also earned the respect and the admiration of the pundits, who hailed him as one of the best managers in the country.

Clement said that he was very happy and proud of his team, and that he felt a special bond with the club and the supporters. He said that he was determined to win the league title and end Celtic’s dominance, and that he was confident that he had the quality and the character to do so. He also said that he was enjoying his time in Scotland, and that he had no plans to leave Rangers anytime soon.

A remarkable story of a remarkable manager

Philippe Clement is a remarkable manager, who has achieved success in every club he has coached. He has shown his intelligence, his passion, his adaptability, and his leadership skills, and has won trophies and fans along the way. He has also shown his courage, his ambition, and his resilience, and has overcome challenges and setbacks in his career.

He is now the manager of Rangers, one of the most prestigious and successful clubs in the world, and he is on the verge of making history with them. He is also one of the most sought-after managers in Europe, and he has been linked with several big clubs, such as Arsenal, Tottenham, and Juventus.

However, he has said that he is happy and committed to Rangers, and that he wants to stay and build a legacy with them. He has also said that he is grateful to his mentors, his players, and his fans, who have supported him and helped him grow as a coach.

Philippe Clement is a man who has gone from engineering student to Rangers’ mastermind, and he is not done yet. He is a man who has a vision, a plan, and a dream, and he is ready to make them come true.

By Chris Muir

Chris Muir is a talented SEO analyst and writer at Cumbernauld Media. With a deep passion for all things related to search engine optimization, Chris brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the team. Specializing in improving website visibility and driving organic traffic, Chris utilizes cutting-edge SEO techniques to propel websites to the top of search engine rankings. Through meticulous keyword research, on-page optimization, and strategic link building, Chris helps businesses of all sizes achieve their online goals.

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