Miguel Herrera has managed to put together a team that plays some great football and has amazed in the 2014 World Cup. After one win and one draw, El Piojo has the chance to take Mexico all the way to the knockout stage if they tie with Croatia.
Who is Herrera?
He made his professional debut with Mexican club Atlante in 1986. During his career as a footballer, he played for Santos Laguna, Queretaro and Neza.
Herrera quickly became one of the most iconic players in Mexican football for his fierceness as a right-back, but also for his flamboyant personality.
He eventually caught the attention of the then Mexico coach Miguel Mejia Baron.
In 1993 Herrera received his first cap and made his debut in a friendly against El Salvador. That same year he appeared in four games of the Copa America, in which Mexico finished runner-ups.
Despite that, the 25-year-old didn't make Mexico's 1994 World Cup team.
After 380 appearances in Mexico's first division, he retired at age 32.
Two years later, he was appointed Atlante manager. He also coached Monterrey, Veracruz, Tecos UAG and Los Potros de Hierro again, before signing with Club America—where he proved to be mature and ready for bigger things.
When Herrera arrived in Mexico City at the end of 2011, Las Aguilas were a mess. The team had had three coaches throughout 2011: Manuel Lapuente, Carlos Reinoso and Alfredo Tena. None of them could give Club America a single title.
El Piojo had a great debut tournament (2012 Clausura) and took the team the semifinals. In 2012 Apertura, he finished the regular season with a 8-7-2 record, but lost in the semis to Toluca.
They say third time's a charm; Herrera finally qualified the squad to the two-legged final. The team overturned a 2-0 deficit in four minutes and ultimately won the title in a penalty shootout against Cruz Azul.
In a public display of trust, he sent Miguel Layun to kick the decisive penalty. It was key for the left-back because he had been bullied since he returned from Europe, where he played just two games for Atalanta (Serie A).
Layun scored, by the way. Oh, and Herrera made the news thanks to his unique celebration.
Herrera had been coaching local clubs for almost 12 years and he had only secured one title in his career, but he proved to be the right choice.
He knew that he had one month to prepare. Instead of experimenting, he capped 10 players from Club America, mainly because they knew how he liked things to be done.
Once he secured the ticket to Brazil, he started to work with players from more clubs. He called the European-based footballers and found the way to use them without taking for granted the local players' merit and talent.
He left hierarchy behind, something that had never happened with El Tri. He picked his starting XI for the World Cup until the very last minute and it paid off.
Herrera has become a loved coach because he is laid back, and is not afraid of saying what he thinks. He interacts with the fans through his Twitter account and speaks with the media on a regular basis.
El Piojo has changed El Tri's mindset in seven months, what Jose Manuel de la Torre, Luis Fernando Tena and Victor Manuel Vucetich couldn't do.
The greatest difference
His personality impregnates in the whole team. You can see it when the players go out to the beach to play a casual match, or when Herrera takes a selfie with the whole or even photobombs his footballers.
Herrera trusts his players; he has given Oribe Peralta continuity, although El Hermoso hasn't been at his finest moment.
That's why Mexico are playing like they haven't done in years. El Piojo has found the way to make them believe in themselves.
Just take a look at the game against Brazil. El Tri fought hard, they pushed the hosts and secured an historic draw.
Croatia may be one of the toughest European teams, but Mexico have impressed with their game, passion and commitment on the pitch.
All advanced statistics appear courtesy of MedioTiempo.com, unless otherwise noted.
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