He was formed at Cavigal de Nice, but OGC Nice, one of the best French team at the moment, did not recruit him so he went to AS Saint-Étienne in 1957, becoming one of the best prospects of French football. As a defensive midfielder, he is comfortable in the fashioned 4–2–4 system at the beginning of the 1960s, providing his physique to his team. He became important for France, forth at Euro 1960, and a member of the FIFA World Cup 1966 squad in England. He was a cornerstone of the first generation of the great AS Saint-Étienne winning side which clinched four titles in a row, from 1967 to 1970. For the 1969–1970 season, coach Albert Batteux moved Herbin at fullback along with Bernard Bosquier. The association was successful, and Herbin remained at that position till the end of his career.
He is the only coach in modern French football who scored a goal for his team. During the last match of 1974–75 season, at the age of 36, he played as fullback against Troyes AC and scored a penalty. AS Saint-Étienne had already been declared the champions.