Hervé Renard: Journeyman who shocked Messi’s Argentina at the global stage

Hervé Renard: Journeyman who shocked Messi’s Argentina at the global stage
French coach Verve Renard guided Saudi Arabia to a historic victory against high flying Argentina.

“Look, I’m a coach. I’m not Harry Potter. He is magical, but in reality, there is no magic. Magic is fiction and football is real,” José Mourinho, the charismatic Portuguese tactician with two Uefa champions league medals in his cabinet once said.

Football is magical. Some win by sheer luck, others by the dark forces- the voodoo, for those who believe in black magic. But in real honesty, luck and hard work are what determines the final score – a smiley face for the victor; and a frowning face for the losing opponent.

This is best exemplified by the outcomes of the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Qatar. One of the most exciting parts of the Qatar games is how the “underdogs” have come out to embarrass giants and some of the biggest names in modern football. Lionel Messi, the talented Argentine was reduced to a minor role by a determined Saudi Arabia side, led by the French tactician with the powers of the Greek mythical king Midas.

The Saudi Arabian victory over Argentina is considered the biggest football upset of the modern era.  But to football fans, especially those who have followed African football in the last decade, they knew that the victory took some work, especially when cameras turned on Herve Renard, the French tactician with a midas touch.

From Zambia to Morocco, back to Ivory Coast, almost every team that Renard has touched has some golden piece of history in football records.

He is a victor. His winning mentality saw him sweep Viviane Dièye down the floor. The relations brought forth three children.

Dièye is the widow of Coach Bruno Metsu, the Senegal coach who died of cancer in 2013

Metsu had just taken over the leadership mantle at Al Wasl in Dubai, from Diego Maradona, when he was diagnosed with colon cancer in July 2012.

Just like Renard, Metsu had achieved worldwide fame when he steered the Lions of Taranga to a historic 1-0 victory over the defending world champions – France, at the opening game of the 2002 World Cup finals in Japan/South Korea.

In the same tournament, Senegal went ahead to reach eight. They also reached the Africa Cup of Nations final in the same year.

The “The White Sorcerer,” later passed away in France, leaving behind a beautiful wife and three children. Renard did not waste an opportunity when he jumped on to fill the gap left by Metsu. He married Dièye a year later. The couple has three children together.

Renard is a man of style and is out to write history. While he has achieved much for the game, his famous 2-1 victory against Argentina, in his characteristic “lucky white shirt”, reminded the world of his distinct choice of wardrobe during match day.

I must admit that for the last 10 years that Renard has been in top-flight football, I’ve never seen him in any colour other than his lucky white shirt, whenever he is on the touchline. He has never changed his hairstyle either.

But who is Herve Renard?

Before taking up the job as a coach, Renard was a professional football player. He played as a defender. Born in 1968, Aix-les-Bains (Savoie, France), Renard played both club and international football for France.

He had an illustrious 15-year career with Cannes, Stade de Vallauris and SC Draguignan. Interestingly, before he switched to the dugout, he worked as a cleaner at Draguignan where he later set up a cleaning business. He later managed a few clubs in Europe and Asia before Zambia, came calling with a job offer.

After just seven months, he switched employer – to Angola.

While with Angola, he guided the side to a quarter-final place in the subsequent AFCON final, the country’s best performance in 14 years.

He went back to Zambia in 2011 and guided the country to its first-ever AFCON victory in 2012.

He was subsequently eliminated in the group stage a year later and released in October 2013. He went back to France where he took up the role at the French club Sochaux.

His side would later be relegated to the lower division only for the journeyman to pack his back for a trip back to Africa. In May 2014, he was named manager of the Ivory Coast.

The following year, he won his second AFCON title with the Ivory Coast, making him the first manager to retain the trophy with a different team.

Renard subsequently became the manager of another African team, this time Morocco, after a dismal stint at the French club.

Following his splendid performance, French club Lille sought this signature but he ended the relationship and returned to Africa – with Morocco whom he guided to a first World Cup appearance since 1998.

He presided over Morocco’s shocking AFCON Round of 16 loss in 2019 before stepping down a few days later.

From there, crossed the Red Sea, to Saudi Arabia. He did not only secure a world cup ticket but also beat Argentina in their opening match early this week. Renard also holds the record as the only foreign coach with the most victories for a country in the process (18).

The stylish French tactician is married with three children – two daughters and a son.

His first child – Candide, 25 is an actress and socialite in France.

His other kids are Kevin and Audrey Renard.

Herve Renard’s fact file

-First coach to win two AFCON titles with two different teams.

-Took Morocco to first World Cup in 20 years in 2018.

-Took Saudi Arabia to World Cup 2022 Qatar.

-Beat 2022 World Cup favourites Argentina with Saudi Arabia.