Herve Renard: All you need to know about the 2-time AFCON winner wanted by the Super Eagles

Hervé Renard, a name that conjures images of tactical astuteness and defying expectations, has carved an unconventional path in the world of football.

Unlike many footballing greats, Renard's journey began not on the hallowed turf of a top club, but on the opposite side of the touchline. 

Hervé Jean-Marie Roger Renard, born on 30 September 1968, is one of the most decorated coaches in the history of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). 

In this article, we'll provide everything you need to know about the two-time Africa Cup of Nations winner who has recently been linked with the vacant Super Eagles head coach position.

Early life and playing career (1968-1998)

Born in 1968 in Aix-les-Bains, France, Renard's journey began on the opposite side of the touchline.

He spent his playing career traversing the lower leagues of French football, primarily as a defender, for clubs like AS Cannes, Stade de Vallauris, and SC Draguignan. While his playing days weren't marked by top-flight glory, they instilled in him a deep love for the sport and a yearning to stay involved after hanging up his boots.

Retirement didn't spell the end for Renard. In a fascinating twist, he worked as a cleaner to make ends meet, waking up early to clean before dedicating evenings to coaching his local team, SC Draguignan. 

Herve Renard: The genesis 

Hervé Renard's managerial journey began at his local club, SC Draguignan. He then embarked on a series of international coaching experiences. In 2002-2003, he served as assistant coach to the legendary Claude Le Roy at the Chinese side Shanghai Cosco. This partnership continued in 2004 when they joined English club Cambridge United, with Renard taking on the managerial role.

Herve Renard AFCON 2024
Photo by Icon Sport

Following his stint in England, Renard took the helm at Vietnamese club Song Da Nam Dinh in 2004, though his tenure there was short-lived. He then returned to France in 2005 to manage AS Cherbourg, where he remained until 2007. In a familiar move, he once again reunited with Le Roy, this time as his assistant coach for the Ghana national team.

Love and fairytale story with Zambia 

In 2008, Herve Renard's career took a significant leap as he was appointed manager of the Zambia national team. He led the team to the quarter-finals of the 2010 AFCON, their first in 14 years. However, a surprising move saw him leave Zambia for Angola in 2010, only to resign a few months later. He returned to Zambia in 2011, and his second stint proved to be historic.

In 2012, Renard led Zambia to a remarkable victory in the Africa Cup of Nations, their first ever. This triumph was particularly poignant as it came 19 years after a plane crash tragically claimed the lives of 18 Zambian national team players. The victory was an emotional one, dedicated to those lost in the accident.

Leaving his mark across continents 

Following his success with Zambia, Herve Renard embarked on a period of managing various national teams across Africa and Europe. He briefly managed Angola, USM Alger in Algeria, and then returned to Zambia for a second stint. He then ventured to France with FC Sochaux before leading the Ivory Coast to victory in the 2015 AFCON, becoming the first coach to win the tournament with two different teams.

Herve Renard: All you need to know about the 2-time AFCON winner wanted by the Super Eagles
Photo by Icon Sport

This period showcased Renard's adaptability and ability to connect with players from diverse backgrounds. His brief, unsuccessful stint with French club Lille in 2015 highlighted the challenges of managing club teams compared to national sides.

World Cup record

In 2016, Herve Renard took charge of the Morocco national team and led them to a historic qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, their first in 20 years.

He signed a contract extension until 2022, but his journey with Morocco ended abruptly in 2019 after a disappointing exit from the Africa Cup of Nations. He resigned shortly after, taking responsibility for the team's performance.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Renard became the first Frenchman to manage the Saudi Arabian national team later in 2019. He led them to qualification and earned a famous 2–1 win over Argentina, one of the pre-tournament favourites, in what was considered one of the biggest shock results in World Cup history.

Following his success with Saudi Arabia, Renard wasn't content to rest on his laurels. In March 2023, the opportunity arose to take charge of the France women's national team, a position that had become vacant after the dismissal of Corinne Diacre. 

Renard went on to make history by becoming the first coach to manage teams in both the men's and women's World Cup in the same year.

He further etched his name in the record books on July 29th, 2023, by becoming the first coach to win a match in both tournaments after France defeated Brazil in the group stage. While France's journey ended in the quarter-finals with a penalty shootout defeat to Australia, Renard's impact on the team was undeniable.

Achievements

The pinnacle of Herve Renard's success came at the helm of national teams.

As previously mentioned, he masterminded Zambia's historic victory in the 2012 AFCON, one of the greatest underdog stories in modern footballing history.

Renard's tactical nous and motivational skills were further underlined when he led the Ivory Coast to Africa Cup of Nations glory in 2015, becoming the first coach to win the tournament with two different nations.

His exceptional performances didn't go unnoticed. Renard was recognized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) as Coach of the Year a record three times – in 2012, 2015, and 2018. 

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Toyosi Afolayan

Toyosi Afolayan is a sports journalist who breathes life into the games we love. He loves to combine insightful analysis with historical background, creating a richer understanding of sports. Afolayan's expertise ranges from captivating narratives to live broadcasts, captivating audiences across platforms like Ojbsport, AllNigeriaSoccer, TVC Entertainment, Bounce Networks, Kwara TV, ICIR, EaglesTracker, and NFF TV. His background in History and International Studies adds depth, revealing the connections between sports, politics, and national identity.