Canada manger for World Cup 2022: Everything you need to know about John Herdman

John Herdman Canada manager for World Cup 2022
(Image credit: Getty Images)

John Herdman will lead Canada as manager at World Cup 2022 (opens in new tab), as the Maple Leafs make their first appearance at the tournament in 36 years.

The Englishman has taken an unconventional route to the top, but he has been an enormous success since taking charge of the Canada men’s team in 2018.

The 47-year-old led the Canadians to first place in CONCACAF qualifying to book passage to their first World Cup since 1986, and only their second ever. In doing so, he became the first manager to qualify a men’s and women’s team to the World Cup, having previously done so with Canada and New Zealand's women.

Fired by the goals of Cyle Larin and Jonathan David, Herdman’s side suffered just two defeats in 14 games as they finished top of the pile ahead of fellow qualifiers Mexico, USA and Costa Rica.

Herdman, from County Durham, wasn’t formerly a professional footballer and got into coaching while studying at Northumbria University. He got involved in Sunderland’s youth system, but a move to New Zealand set him on track for a career in senior coaching; he was brought into the national set-up behind the scenes, before taking charge of the women’s national team in 2006.

Herdman led the Under-20 side to two World Cups at that age level, while taking the senior team to the 2007 and 2011 Women’s World Cups and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. They couldn't make an impression at those tournaments though, failing to record a win or make it out of the group stage.

In 2011, Herdman moved to Canada to take over their women’s national team and he quickly made an impact by winning gold at the 2011 Pan American Games, beating Brazil in the final on penalties.

The following year Canada won bronze at the London Olympics, before repeating the feat four years later in Rio de Janeiro.

After his immense success in the women’s game, Herdman was handed the task of transforming the fortunes of the struggling men’s national team in January 2018. He has done just that. Since Herdman was appointed, Canada have climbed from 72nd to a high of 33rd in the FIFA Ranking – they’ve since dropped back to 41st.

The Englishman’s record is impressive with a win rate of 69% from 45 matches, and he’s brought through some of the country’s best-ever young talent in Jonathan David and Alphonso Davies.

Canada are up against Belgium, Croatia and Morocco in Group F. 

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Alasdair Mackenzie is a freelance journalist based in Rome, and a FourFourTwo contributor since 2015. When not pulling on the FFT shirt, he can be found at Reuters, The Times and the i. An Italophile since growing up on a diet of Football Italia on Channel 4, he now counts himself among thousands of fans sharing a passion for Ross County and Lazio.