We are in 1986, at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. From England, 11-year-old John Herdman watches helplessly as the Three Lions against Diego Maradona’s Argentina. Tears of sadness stream down her childish cheeks. Thirty-five years later, in 2021, the same John Herdman stands at the edge of the lawn of this mythical enclosure and replays the film in his head. He leads Canada’s team against Mexico in Concacaf’s World Cup qualifier. This time, everything is different: it’s a feeling of pride that inhabits him. A more than legitimate feeling. Because the British technician has rebuilt Canadian football, to the point of making the team with the maple leaf the sensation of the preliminary competition of Concacaf, of which it took first place by beating the United States and Mexico in passing. He will now look to replicate that achievement at the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™. « It’s surreal. I remember watching Diego Maradona against England with my dad. That’s when I fell in love with football, » Herdman said in an interview with Sky Sports. « I’m proud of the way my team behaved against Mexico from the first minute. In 1986 I cried, but not that night. » Maradona sowed a seed that paid off, not on the pitch but across the touchline. After attempting to pursue a career as a player, Herdman realized his calling lay in coaching. A trip to Brazil marked a turning point in the budding technician’s vision. There, Herdman learned that football is an art. It is thanks to the lessons learned from his experience in the country, five times world champion that the doors began to open for him in England: first in a training center nourished by the values of Brazilian football, then within from the Academy of Light in Sunderland. But it was written that Herdman would be a prophet somewhere other than in his country. He first took the reins of the New Zealand women’s team, before presiding over the destinies of the Canadian women’s team.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the Englishman revolutionized Canadian football. It first allowed her to climb the ladder in women’s football, with two bronze medals at the Olympic Games and a gold at the Pan American Games. And since the start of his mission at the head of the men’s A in 2018, he has managed to build a united and united team.
By rebuilding football canuck, it also metamorphoses its philosophy. « Observers were saying that this team didn’t have the heart when the games really mattered. Everything revolved around me much too quickly. We were going to start working on the tactical aspect but tactics are useless if you does not trust the person next to you or the coach, » explains the coach. A successful globalist campaign in Qatar would be of fundamental importance to Canadian football. In 2026, the country will host the World Cup alongside the United States and Mexico. The Englishman’s responsibility therefore goes far beyond showing the way to the nets for his proteges. « We need the World Cup to transform the culture. This country is ready for the World Cup, » he announced.