Wednesday, 2 October 2013

ForzaSwansea Exclusive: Toshack is back with the Swans!

The Toshacks have always been a big name with Swansea City. In 1978 John Toshack joined the club as a player manager and took his team from the old Fourth Division right up to the First Division in four seasons. He remains the most successful manager in the history of the club.

But it's not John who has returned to Swansea City (yet...). His son Cameron, who was part of the Swans squad in the late 80s, has followed his father's managerial lead and, since August this year, is back with the club as coach of the under 21 squad!

And it's a great pleasure to have former football agent and now ForzaSwansea writer ALEC JOHNSON catch up with Cameron - discussing his relationship with his father, his thoughts on the club as it is now and the future of Swansea City's youth.

Take it away Alec!
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Alec Johnson: Welcome back to Swansea City Cameron! The club has changed a bit since you were last here in the late 80s hasn't it?

Cameron Toshack: Yes it certainly has and I'm delighted to be back working at the club I've supported since arriving in Swansea as a boy. The changes from the outside are obvious, but it's also great to see the club has remained the same in many ways - important ways. It's retained its values and affiliation with the city and the people, which is due in no small part to the leadership from board level.

Cameron Toshack (© swanseacity.net)

AJ: Gone are the days of getting up at 6am and tearing up the M4 in a transit van to play an afternoon game - now it’s all leather coaches the night before I hear?

CT: Thankfully those days have gone! I can still recall travelling with the youth team to Belgium on the club's mini bus to play in a tournament as well as the long trips to Plymouth and Exeter - all great memories and certainly character building.

However today the club leaves no stone unturned and provides fantastic support to the younger age groups and local players coming through. The latest example of this is the state-of-the-art academy in Landore which is a great place to go to work everyday.

It's always a challenge with younger players to get the balance right between giving them enough to want more and not giving too much and risk affecting their motivation to be the best they can be. My early impression is that the club have the mix right and are keen to progress wherever possible.


AJ: Roll back to your youth - what was it like growing up in the Toshack household?

CT: I've been asked this one a few times... Growing up I was fortunate to be part of a close family unit along with my brother Craig and sister Sally. Looking back I can understand why I was always asked the question, but at the time it never seemed out of the ordinary because your dad is your dad. It's not as if I had anything to compare it to.

Success was the norm from Liverpool to Swansea to Real Madrid (twice) via Real Sociedad, Sporting Lisbon and Besiktas, winning five major trophies. It was a roller-coaster ride and a fantastic experience at an early age to experience different cultures and visit many countries. That said, it was clear we made our base in a great place to live in Swansea and made friendships that remain to this day.

My mum deserves a mention here as she picked up the considerable role of taking us to clubs and schoolboy games all over the place from an early age, while dad worked abroad.


AJ: You retain a very special relationship with your dad don't you?

CT: I guess it inevitably is a special relationship. A lot of boys look up to their father as a key influence on them and mold how they view the world. It's fair to say both my father and his father have passed on the values and ethics which I hold close to this day. As a man he has always set high standards of himself and those around him, something which I experienced at close quarters working with him as part of the technical teams of both national teams in Wales and Macedonia.

It was great for me to work alongside him as both my father and also as one of the most successful coaches to come from these shores. I have learned and continue to learn a lot. I would describe our relationship as special, as you mentioned. I'm very grateful to him for his guidance over the years and I often find it interesting to hear others speak about him.

While knowing him very well myself, I can say that he is a fair person that is very well respected across Europe, in particular in Spain and Turkey where he has worked.


AJ: How is the future looking for our under 21 squad? Who should we look out for?

CT: The future is looking bright! The development squad has taken shape this year and, as you may be aware, as a club we were recently awarded a Category 2 academy status which is a fantastic achievement. Many at the club deserve a lot of credit for driving this successful outcome, in particular Tony Pennock and his team. But things never stand still and the next goal is to move forward which will involve bringing in different thinking to challenge and raise the bar.

Having completed my UEFA badges some time ago as well as coaching at national level I'm hoping to be a key part of the progression. It has been a difficult start for the under 21s as it's the first year the group could be called a squad. Many are new to the club and the expectation of all working in a new structure is high but will need a little time to bed in.

Since arriving in early August I have really enjoyed working with the group and from a player perspective we have a number of good prospects, as do the under 18s who I have also been involved with to a lesser degree, but I'm not going to give you the names yet - weren't you an agent?!

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A big thanks to Cameron for agreeing to give Swans fans a glimpse into his family life and his thoughts on being back with the club again after so many years!

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