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By A Web Design
12 Février 2012
● Barely known in his native France, former cleaning company executive Hervé Renard is about to make a name for himself after coaching Zambia to their third African Nations Cup final.
Zambia have never been African champions but meet Ivory Coast tomorrow morning (Singapore time) as they bid to finally clinch a title they were so close to winning in 1974 and 1994.
© Getty Images
When he realised as a teenager he was never going to make the grade as a top professional player, Renard switched to coaching French amateurs sides but never got a chance with a first division team.
"I am not in the who's who," the 43-year-old told Reuters by telephone from Gabon. "I took out the rubbish for eight years and now I'm about to coach in the African Nations Cup final. Football is magical right?"
At the age of 15, he landed in Cannes to train in one of the finest French football academies of the time, but when his playing career eventually fell apart, he set up a cleaning business which he owned for almost a decade. However, Renard never gave up football and started coaching with sixth-tier Vallauris and Draguignan on the Cote d'Azur.
It helped him catch the attention of former Cameroon coach Claude Le Roy, whom he followed around the world as an assistant at clubs and national sides.
Renard took sole charge of Zambia in 2008, and after leading the Copper Bullets to the Nations Cup quarter-finals in 2010, Renard left but he could not help returning when they called him back late last year.
"On Nov 15, for our first game against Nigeria, I said to myself: 'What am I doing ... it's a disaster'", he said about a game Zambia lost.
Now Renard believes his own story can inspire his team to upset favourites Ivory Coast, having already shocked much-fancied Ghana 1-0 in Wednesday's semi-final.