For eleven years in Canada, the first seven years with the women, he now has a new generation of promising young talents in the men’s team, including Bavaria’s 20-year-old phenomenon Alphonso Davies. Then there are strikers Cyle Larin at Besiktas in Turkey and Jonathan David, a key player at Lille. Herdman says Canada has always produced some good players, but the difference now is a culture of professionalism and efficiency.
“We created a deeper purpose and focused as a group on something bigger than what was originally there,” he says. “There has always been an opportunity to represent a country, but this is an opportunity to change a country. We put that on our players’ minds and got them to commit to it. When talking to the veterans, it was previously a very permissive culture. There was no deep belief that we could go ahead and do anything. “
In fact, all men have to do is look at the performances of the Canadian women, who won bronze in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, the country’s first team sport medals in the Summer Games since 1936. The nation fell in love with the women’s team, and to underline it, Herdman tells a story about one of his predecessors who was responsible for the Canadian men, the Spanish coach Benito Floro. The couple attended a game in Seattle when Herdman was the women manager and Floro saw a male Canadian fan with a name on the back of his replica that he did not recognize.
“’Who is Sinclair?’ he asked me, ”says Herdman. “I had to tell him that it was one of my players, my captain Christine Sinclair. He couldn’t believe the men had the women’s names on the back of their shirts. ”Sinclair was the top scorer in London in 2012 with a hat-trick in the semi-final defeat by the USA. Canada won the bronze medal against France in stoppage time. “Big moment,” says Herdman. “It really set football on fire in the country.”