John Herdman leaves Canada's women's team to coach the men

John Herdman, who coached the Canada women's team to international prominence, was named coach of the men's national team on Monday night.

Herdman, 42, has been coach of the women's team for the past six years. In that time the team rose from No. 12 in the world to No. 5 in the latest rankings. The men's team is ranked No. 94.

The Canadian women won the bronze medal in each of the last two Olympic Games and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2015 Women's World Cup.

"It is easy to point to John's record with Canada to demonstrate his effectiveness as a high-performance coach. In earning back-to-back Summer Olympic medals he's achieved in team sport something no other coach in Canada has done in over 100 years," Canada Soccer general secretary Peter Montopoli said in a statement Monday night.

"What makes him exemplary, though, is his work ethic, his passion, his preparation and his attention to detail. We are looking forward to John bringing his expertise to our men's national team program."

He takes over as men's coach for Octavio Zambrano, who has departed the program. The Ecuadoran had only been Canada's coach since last March.

No reason was given for the move, but Herdman, a native of Consett, England, had been linked with the England women's vacancy following the sacking of Mark Sampson last September.

Reports in England late last year said he was no longer in the running for England post, but reports in Canada on Monday night claimed he had been offered the job, and used that to impel Canada to change his position to the men.

The move came as a surprise to many, including women's captain Christine Sinclair, who responded on Twitter with the words, "Speechless right now."

Kenneth Heiner-Moller, one of Herdman's assistants on the women's side, will take over as coach of that team. The women face qualifying this year for the 2019 World Cup in France.

Herdman previously coached the New Zealand women's national team from 2006 to 2011.

He said he was "keen to put a lasting mark on a program full of potential with as we work towards the ultimate goal of representing Canada on the world's biggest stage at the FIFA World Cup."