Following in his father’s footsteps: Cameron Toshack gambled by leaving his role with Swansea U23s to manage struggling Cypriots Pafos FC… but John is always on the end of the phone
- Cameron Toshack left his role with Swansea’s under-23’s to manage in Cyprus
- Father John played up front for Liverpool and Wales during a glittering career
- He also managed abroad with Real Madrid and the Welsh national team twice
- His son helped develop Premier League stars Daniel James and Oli McBurnie
- Now he’s hoping he can follow in his father’s footsteps by managing at the top
When your father has left Cardiff City to become Liverpool’s centre forward and managed the great Real Madrid twice, it’s fair to say taking on a challenge is in your blood.
Cameron Toshack, son of former Liverpool favourite John, reasoned as much when he left his coaching role with Swansea City’s thriving Under 23s to manage struggling Cypriot side Pafos FC.
It is not the obvious route to top-class management, especially taking on a multi-cultural squad consisting of 22 nationalities, but it is, he hopes, a calculated risk.
Cameron Toshack pictured with his father John during the Welsh striker’s playing career
Toshack junior is hoping his decision to leave his role with Swansea’s under-23’s will pay off
‘It is a gamble,’ says Toshack. ‘I was in my comfort zone at Swansea and could have hung around waiting for a job in the UK but one thing I learned from Dad was don’t be shy of a challenge. Experiencing different cultures can make you a better man as well as a better manager.’
The local Cyprus paper certainly concurs. When Toshack took over in December, Pafos were described as a team with ‘no start, no middle and no end’. Now, after a run of five wins and 15 goals in seven games, they are ‘the apotheosis of creation’. Or in blunter terms, playing attractive, attacking football.
‘It’s based on the old Swansea core principle of possession football,’ explains Toshack, who guided Swansea Under 23s to successive Premier League Cup finals and helped develop youngsters such as Daniel James, now of Manchester United.
‘The players deserve credit,’ says Toshack. ‘They are a bunch striving to get better and we’ve given them organisation, clarity and belief. It’s helped having guys like Jason Puncheon in the squad who understand straight away.’
John Toshack enjoyed a glittering playing career before also going on to manage at the top
The former striker was manager of his national team in 1994 and between 2004 and 2010
Comprehending each other has been fundamental to the task. Apart from Cypriots, Pafos can boast an Argentina Under 20 international, an Angolan forward, Latvian keeper, Finnish midfielder and a defender from Haiti to list just a few.
‘It can be fun at breakfast,’ laughs Toshack. ‘The owners here are Russian and we have 22 nationalities so I’m dipping into four languages every day just to say good morning and hello.
‘Circumstances have been difficult but the response has made me and the staff feel valued. Dad instilled in me values of loyalty, honesty and hard work. They may be old-fashioned but if you stay true to those you gain respect.’
Toshack, who turned 50 this month, is grateful he has his father at the end of the phone as a mentor. The two worked together with Macedonia and at the aptly named African Champions League contenders Wydad Casablanca in Morocco.
Memories are aplenty. Being in the garden of their Formby home as a five-year-old, resplendent in Liverpool kit, taking shots against his father and going with mum Sue and sister Sally to watch Wales against Scotland in the 1978 World Cup qualifier at a jam-packed Anfield.
‘I can remember Dad volleying the ball goalwards and Alan Rough making a brilliant save to tip it over the bar. Scotland scored two late goals to win 2-0, so we left early.’
When John left Liverpool to embark on his successful spell as player-manager of Swansea, the family moved to Gower, where Cameron went to school with the children of England striker Bob Latchford.
The Welshman has turned struggling Pafos around since he joined the club in December
‘Figures like Bill Shankly, Ian Callaghan and Tommy Smith were common in conversation because they were all part of the family for Dad,’ says Toshack.
‘When I think what he did as a 29-year-old, to start managing his peers then take the club from the Fourth to the First Division, it’s incredible. He’s always been my hero, really.’
Toshack Snr was also a hero to Daniel James’s father Kevan, who credited Cameron with helping turn his son into a potential Premier League star.
Tragically, Kevan died before seeing Daniel play for Manchester United. ‘Kevan was a big Cardiff City fan, so idolised Dad from those early days,’ says Toshack. ‘Dad was his hero. I got them together to take a picture and Kevan was delighted. It’s so sad what happened but Daniel is a great credit to his father. I’m sure he’d be incredibly proud.’
James was one of a number of young stars to benefit from Toshack’s coaching at Swansea. Manchester City target Joe Rodon, Wales defender Connor Roberts and Sheffield United’s Oli McBurnie were among them.
Toshack is credited with developing Daniel James during his time in Swansea’s youth ranks
The midfielder signed for Manchester United in the summer after three years in South Wales
‘I still message Daniel,’ says Toshack. ‘I watched him against Manchester City the other Sunday and it was terrific to see him having such a big effect. He’s always been full of pace and no defender wants to face that.
‘He’s the kind of player who will get bums off seats. Old Trafford’s big pitch suits him. He gets criticism for his decision-making but he’s new to the division and still young. At least he’s not afraid to get himself into those positions.’
That makes two of them. Toshack’s route to the top may be more divergent but he has faith he is on the right path.
‘When Dad first went to Spain at Real Sociedad, you had Terry Venables at Barcelona and Howard Kendall at Bilbao. A lot more British coaches should take the chance of going abroad.
‘My ambition is still to manage in a top league and I’ll return with a better skillset.’
Toshack says his aim is to improve his skillset and manage in one of the world’s top leagues
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