Rénard, the fox who defeated the flea

Luis Miguel Pascual

Doha, 23 Nov. Rarely does the name of Hervé Rénard appear dissociated from the word globetrotter. The reputation of this Frenchman has been forged in modest soccer countries, although even before he managed to build a team in Saudi Arabia capable of defeating Messi’s Argentina, he had the favor of his colleagues.

Rénard, French for fox, has had more success with African teams than in his own country, where his temperament has never adapted to club life.

But in his second World Cup experience, the first in charge of an Asian team, he has shown that his instincts do not fail him and he has been able to build a solid team in a country that is not among the greats.

A war machine that has rolled in six friendly matches, with little-known players, some of whom were forged in Spain after a contract between Riyadh and LaLiga.

With the surprising victory against Argentina, Rénard has managed to establish himself on the football planet, the greatest achievement of a work coach as quiet as he is meticulous.

His name is linked to that of Claude Le Roy, a football veteran who has toured the world on the benches: Cameroon, Senegal, Malaysia, Congo, Ghana, Oman, Syria and Togo. Few technicians can boast of a similar cover letter.

At the turn of the century, he noticed a coach who had taken his first steps in the south of France, where after a very brief playing career he launched into training while creating a mansion-cleaning company that forced him to get up at 3 am.

Joining his name to that of Le Roy was a carat endorsement, given the agenda his mentor was managing and soon the pupil began to discover a new world, presidential palaces and a whole list of presidents of federations from the most unexpected countries.


In 2008 he landed on the bench of Zambia, with whom, after a brief stint at USM Algiers, he lifted his first Africa Cup of Nations in 2012, before three years later becoming the only coach to win the second with another team. this time that of the Ivory Coast.

His “play boy” face and athletic body ended up attracting attention in his country of origin, where Lille entrusted him with a first major project, but he barely lasted 14 games.

Back in Africa, Rénard managed to qualify Morocco for the 2018 World Cup, ending a 20-year drought of absence for the Atlas lions among the elite.

In Saudi Arabia, with whom he is living his second World Cup experience, he received carte blanche from the sheikhs to form a competitive team and Rénard has more than fulfilled the mission, regardless of whether or not the feat against Argentina continues.

A single defeat in the qualifying phase for Qatar, against Japan, gave them the ticket to the World Cup and renewed Riyadh’s confidence in their coach, whom they signed a contract until 2027.

Rénard has been living in Senegal, his wife’s country, for years, in a paradisiacal region by the sea.

Those who know him best assure that he is a tireless worker, something that he himself affirms that he has inherited from his mother, of Polish origin, but also very humble.

His face is deceptive, says Le Roy, who was the recipient of Rénard’s first phone call after beating Argentina. The trail that he has always wanted to follow the globetrotter. EFE


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Rénard, the fox who defeated the flea

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