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From cleaner to World Cup coach: Who is Saudi Arabia football manager Hervé Renard?

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Saudi Arabia landed a historic win over Argentina in the Qatar World Cup on Tuesday, defeating the South American men’s football team — ranked third in the world by FIFA — 2-1.The key behind their victory?

French coach Hervé Renard, who became Saudi Arabia’s manager in 2019 and propelled the team to unprecedented success.Renard’s own personal trajectory has been far from linear.

The Aix-les-Bains native started off as a defender in French football teams throughout the 1980s and 90s, until a knee injury in 1998 crushed his playing career.Shortly after, aged 30, he became a coach for Draguignan SC, a small team in southern France.

He also started working as a cleaner between training sessions and eventually founded his own cleaning company.Back in his early coaching days, the World Cup was still a very distant prospect for the aspiring manager.“It was a childhood dream, that even seemed unimaginable,” he recounted while speaking to AFP.Come 2004, Renard faced further obstacles after his short stint at Cambridge United - a lower league English team - ended with the sack.Nevertheless, his fortunes would be reversed by the 2010s.

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