One coach had a more than decent excuse for not attending the latest graduation ceremony for students on the Irish FA UEFA Pro Licence programme.
While many of the latest crop of graduates were receiving their Pro Licence certificates at the event on Wednesday, John Herdman was in full World Cup mode in Qatar.
Herdman, who was born in England but has largely been coaching in either New Zealand or Canada for the past 20 years, has been the head coach of Canada’s men’s team since 2018 after being coach of Canada Women for more than seven years.
He is currently pitting his wits against Belgium, Croatia and Morocco in Group F at FIFA World Cup 2023.
In their first match at the tournament the Canadians played superbly as they narrowly lost out 1-0 to the Belgians. Their second game is against Croatia on Sunday (27 November) and their third and final group game will see them take on the Moroccans next Thursday (1 December).
It’s only Canada’s second appearance at a World Cup. Their only previous appearance came in 1986.
Herdman was not the only recent graduate unable to attend this week’s ceremony at the Culloden Hotel, Cultra.
Also not able to be there were ex-Liverpool, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Spain star Luis Garcia, former South Africa and Everton attacking midfielder Steven Pienaar and ex-Manchester City, Aston Villa, Queens Park Rangers and Republic of Ireland defender Richard Dunne.
Other graduates who could not attend included ex-Northern Ireland internationals Paddy McCourt and Martin Paterson, who is currently assistant head coach at League One club Barnsley, former Celtic, Aston Villa and Bulgaria star Stiliyan Petrov and former Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, West Ham United, Norwich City and QPR midfielder Gary O’Neil, currently interim manager at Premier League club Bournemouth.
Also unable to be there were ex-USA international Jermaine Jones, Marc Dos Santos, the former Vancouver Whitecaps boss who is now assistant coach at Los Angeles FC in the MLS, and Saudi Arabia U20s coach Adbulhakeem Al-Tuwaijri.
Irish FA UEFA Pro Licence graduates - class of 2020: (in attendance) Kevin Deery, Kevin Doherty, Kris Lindsay, Mick McDermott, Ross Oliver, Gail Redmond, Matthew Tipton, Andy Waterworth; (not able to attend) Jamie Day, Jonathan Greening, John Herdman, Francis Jeffers, Patrick Kisnorbo, Paddy McCourt, Nick Montgomery, Darren Mullen, Gary O’Neil, Stiliyan Petrov, Ciaran Toner, Paddy McLaughlin.
Irish FA UEFA Pro Licence graduates - class of 2022: (in attendance) Chris Brunt, Michael Carvill, Ian Evatt, Stuart King, Seamus Lynch, Dean Shiels, Paul Robinson; (not able to attend) Adbulhakeem Al-Tuwaijri, Colum Curtis, Marc Dos Santos, Richard Dunne, Luis Garcia, Emilio Gutierrez, Jermaine Jones, Mattie Lahitie, Martin Paterson, Steven Pienaar, Clint Hill, Mark McChrystal.