The surprise World Cup manager born in Consett with significant links to Newcastle United behind-the-scenes

John Herdman still has family in the North East, some of whom actually work in the Newcastle United set-up.

Newcastle United eyes will be on current first-team representatives playing in Qatar this winter, but there is another lad from the North East involved in the competition you might not know about.

Canada manager John Herdman was actually born in Consett, County Durham and still has family in and around Newcastle. The manager was a student at Leeds Trinity University, then a part-time lecturer at Northumbria University and also worked as a development coach for Sunderland.

In a recent interview given to The Sun, the Canada boss' brother Martin, who works as a coach at the Newcastle Academy himself, said: "It's been about Newcastle United for so long, but since Sunday it's switched to the World Cup. I'm an England fan, but am probably about 70 per cent in Canada's favour right now. They are massive underdogs in a game against Belgium, but I am hoping for the best. Anything could happen."

Herdman has been keeping his links with Newcastle close too, admitting that he has regular conversations with transfer chief Steve Nixon.

He told The Chronicle: “I’ve had a few good conversations with [Nixon] over the last two years around some of the Canadian players. So they’re on the radar. There’s no doubt. We had a good chat about some of the Canadian players. They’re on board, they’re aware, they’re doing their homework - they are aware of some of those younger guys that are starting to emerge.”

The World Cup manager has spoken candidly about his upbringing in the North East over the years, opening up about mental health problems suffered by his father after losing his job at a local steelworks and that his mother had problems with alcohol.

When he was 17 years old, Herdman himself found some trouble with the law after boarding a flight at Newcastle Airport and telling the pilot he was carrying an explosive device.

John Herdman is Canada boss, but comes from the North East of England

The incident happened in 1993 when Herdman was on his way to Malaga. Herdman was eventually released by court after saying it was just a joke gone wrong. A spokesperson for the Guardia Civil police said at the time: “He was arrested when the plane landed. He was searched for bombs and weapons but nothing was found and he was later released.”

Canada lost their opening game of the tournament against Belgium 1-0 after a Michy Batshuayi goal just before half time. Canada next take on Croatia in the World Cup Group F on Sunday, November 27 at 4 pm.