From ‘Garbage collector’ to Top Prize in African Football, Renard dedicates team’s win to Kalusha Bwalya for the opportunity
Zambia coach Herve Renard has dedicated his team’s title triumph at the 2012 Orange Africa Cup of Nations to Chipolopolo legend Kalusha Bwalya for giving him the opportunity to handle the team. The Frenchman describes the feat as a thank you package for the impact in his coaching career.
“He is the best Zambian player of the last century and he escaped the plane crash. He was criticized for giving me the second chance. I dedicate the victory to him because he gave me the opportunity to coach. I also thank Claude Le Roy for giving me my first experience in Africa as assistant coach in 2008 with Ghana.” Renard added that his team was destined to win the title after a campaign that saw them start every game as underdogs.
“It was unrealisable before the start of the tournament and we realised we have to believe in ourselves. We were not the best team but have the strength to fight on.
“We wanted to honour the dead players and that strengthened us. Our first game was against Senegal and the team was on its way to Senegal for a match when the plane crashed. The plane crashed in Gabon and we won the final in Gabon. It is a sign of destiny.”
The Frenchman for 8 years run a hands on rubbish removal company when he started out as a coach.
“When I started my life as a coach I was running my own company cleaning the communal parts of buildings,” he explained. “I used to get up at 3.00am for five days a week to do it. Putting out the bins was part of the deal. I’ll remember those moments before the game against Côte d’Ivoire. It was a difficult time.” he said before the cup final.
When I started my life as a coach I was running my own company cleaning the communal parts of buildings,” he explained. “I used to get up at 3.00am for five days a week to do it. Putting out the bins was part of the deal.
Eight years of hauling refuse around at dawn are far behind him now. And at 43 the Renard has Africa ’s most glittering football prize in his pocket.
The 2012 competition has been his third in all and his second as head coach and with the result of the dramatic win over the tournament favorites in the final, his value has now sharply risen.
“My path has been up and down,” he reflected. “It’s not always easy because when you don’t have a name you have to take somewhere more difficult than people with names. They are able to start somewhere immediately at a higher level but perhaps it’s a good thing as you get stronger mentally.”
The feature of his Zambia side has been its resilience and organisation as they’ve confounded supposedly stronger teams such as Senegal in the opening game in Bata three weeks ago and most notably Ghana and Ivory Coast .
“I was 15 when I signed my first contract with Cannes and I remember how lucky I was to start in the academy there,” Renard recalls. “I met some fantastic players. Arsène Wenger was coach of the academy and Jean-Marc Guillou, the coach of the first team. Afterwards there was Jean Fernandez, Guy Lacombe and Claude [Le Roy]. All fantastic people and when they were talking I concentrated and listened to these people.”
And the Frenchman is hoping that the performance of his team will open bigger doors for most of Zambian players to play in Europe