When he was a player, Miguel Herrera’s blonde mullet accentuated his piquant naughtiness, mixed in with a nasty mean streak. He was dogged, hard-working, and one of the peskiest defenders in Mexican soccer during a greater part of the 1990’s. Although diminutive in stature, his intense nature made him a fan favorite. Yet it was his demons emerging from that mean streak that became his eventual downfall.
As a coach, Herrera still exudes that fiery nature but he’s combined it with a quick wit and a jocular personality (as well as an abundance of passion) that made him one of the most beloved individuals in Mexico.
How quickly things change.
Back in April, I had the pleasure of interviewing Miguel Herrera in Mexico City. The scene was perfectly set at the Centro De Alto Rendimiento (Mexican FA’s training ground). At that moment, it seemed that Mexican soccer was in a peaceful place. Everyone was smiling, and Herrera cracked jokes at times while the press laughed in unison, which was strikingly reminiscent to the canned laughs you hear in old sitcoms.
While my conversation was brief, it was still extremely telling in hindsight. One of the questions I asked him was what his “best mistake” was. What I meant by that was a mistake that taught him a great lesson where he ended up benefitting from it in the long term. He candidly spoke about the time he was with Atlante and that infamous fight he had prior to the World Cup.
That same fight was that one that virtually ended his international career. He told me that fight taught him to control his emotions and not allow them to get the best of him. He remembered that incident vividly and told me how it marked him as a player. It would be that fight that many would revisit after this latest scandal that could cost him his job.
Our conversation was brief as he was quickly whisked away in order to speak to various sponsors present. He would then join a US-based radio program, then he got ready to attend an event near the Zona Rosa in Mexico City where the most popular wax museum in the capital was ready to unveil a statue of the Mexican national team coach. He was on top of the world.
Excesses are usually not a good thing. Wherever he went, he was asked for. Whoever asked for him, he tended to them in a gracious manner. In the end, that attitude, in addition to his commercial and coaching obligations, took a toll.