Herve Renard’s poor English might have cost then teenage goalkeeper John Ruddy a move from Cambridge to Manchester United in 2004

Herve Renard Saudi Arabia
Herve Renard, Saudi Arabia manager (Image credit: Getty Images)

Herve Renard is winning hearts and minds with his exciting Saudi Arabia side at the World Cup – especially after their shocking victory over Argentina in their opening game.

But Birmingham City goalkeeper John Ruddy could be forgiven for having less time for the French manager.

Renard's 20-year career in football management included a brief spell as boss of Cambridge United in 2004, where a young Ruddy was starting his career.

And in an exclusive interview with FourFourTwo, the Saudi gaffer admits Ruddy's career might have gone a bit differently had he had a better grasp on the language.

In fact, after a conversation with Sir Alex Ferguson, it might have even seen a move to Old Trafford.

"When I first came to Cambridge I couldn’t speak English that well," Renard tells FFT.

"I don’t think I speak it well now either, but back then it wasn’t possible for me to talk for a long time. I went everywhere with my dictionary – I was learning and improving because Cambridge couldn’t afford a translator. John [Ruddy] was only 17 and I still remember the time Sir Alex Ferguson called me to ask about him.

"Maybe he didn’t understand my English so well, because John ended up at Everton and not Manchester United."

FourFourTwo Issue 346

How the full interview appears in FourFourTwo magazine (Image credit: Future)

Ruddy made just one appearance for Everton during a five-year spell on Merseyside, before establishing himself as a Premier League regular at Norwich.

He's now the No.1 at Birmingham, where he's still impressing – despite being 13th, only two sides have conceded fewer goals in the Championship so far this season.

Renard, meanwhile, is masterminding wins over Messi et al in Qatar. Just in case that one had passed you by.

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Conor Pope
Online Editor

Conor Pope is the Online Editor of FourFourTwo, overseeing all digital content, and joined the team in February 2019. He plays football regularly, both on grass and artificial surfaces, and has a large, discerning and ever-growing collection of football shirts from around the world.


He supports Blackburn Rovers and holds a season ticket with south London non-league side Dulwich Hamlet. His main football passions include Tugay, the San Siro and only using a winter ball when it snows.