On this day in 2004: John Toshack becomes Wales boss on five-year deal

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John Toshack signed a five-year contract to become the new manager of Wales on this day in 2004.

Former Liverpool striker Toshack, then 55, took the helm for the second time 10 years after lasting just a single game in his first spell.

He had been appointed on a part-time basis in 1994, combining his duties with his role as manager at Real Sociedad, but resigned to concentrate on his club responsibilities following a 3-1 defeat by Norway.

The Football Association of Wales turned to a man who had won 40 caps for his country for a second time a decade later having drawn up a three-man shortlist which also included Dean Saunders and Philippe Troussier after Gerard Houllier had declined an interview.

Toshack, who had been outspokenly critical of predecessor Mark Hughes in his role as a pundit, arrived with the Welsh having missed out on qualification for the Euro 2004 finals after a play-off defeat by Russia and with their World Cup qualification hopes hanging in the balance following a return of just two points from their opening four games of the campaign.

He said at the time: “While it’s mathematically possible that we can qualify, we realise that this particular campaign is by no means easy.

“But by the time the European Championship qualifiers come round in September 2006, we’ll have a pretty good idea what sort of side I’ve got. Hopefully by results and hard work, we’ll be able to achieve our objectives.”

Toshack, who launched his coaching career as player-manager at Swansea and guided the club from the fourth to the first division before heading for Sporting Lisbon, Sociedad, Real Madrid, Deportivo La Coruna and Besiktas, went to work with his eyes wide open.

Draws with Azerbaijan and Northern Ireland and defeats by England and Poland meant he inherited a difficult situation, and it was not improved by back-to-back defeats by Austria.

Wales ultimately finished fifth in the group despite wins over Azerbaijan and Northern Ireland in their final two games.

Toshack remained at the helm for almost six years, blooding a new generation of players as the likes of Robbie Savage, Gary Speed, Ryan Giggs, Jason Koumas and Simon Davies made way for youngsters Gareth Bale, Joe Ledley, Aaron Ramsey, Chris Gunter and Jack Collison.

However, appearances at the finals of major tournaments continued to elude them and, after a 1-0 defeat by Montenegro in their opening Euro 2012 qualifier in Podgorica in September 2010, he left his post by mutual consent.

Toshack departed having overseen 21 wins in 53 games during which he capped 43 new senior internationals and was succeeded three months later by Gary Speed.

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