Player profile

John Toshack

John Toshack

Birthdate: 22 March 1949
Birthplace: Cardiff, Wales
Other clubs: Cardiff City (1965-70), Swansea City (1978-83)
Bought from: Cardiff City
Signed for LFC: £110,000, 11.11.1970
International debut: 26.03.1969 vs. West Germany
International caps: 40/13 (26/0 at LFC) - 17.10.1979
Liverpool debut: 14.11.1970
Last appearance: 19.11.1977
Debut goal: 21.11.1970
Last goal: 19.02.1977
Contract expiry: 27.02.1978
Win ratio: 57.89% W:143 D:58 L:46
Games/goals ratio: 2.57
Honours: League Championship 1972/73, 1975/76, 1976/77; FA Cup 1974; UEFA Cup 1973, 1976
LFC league games/goals: 172 / 74
Total LFC games/goals: 247 / 96

Player profile

Liverpool tried to sign Frank Worthington from Huddersfield Town but he failed a medical and Bill Shankly turned his attention instead to a young Welshman with a growing reputation at his hometown club Cardiff City. In November 1970 21-year-old Toshack arrived for a club record of £110,000. 'Tosh' endeared himself to the home public in only his second match when he thumped a headed equaliser into the Kop goal in the cauldron of a Merseyside 'derby' against Everton. Although Toshack 'only' scored seven times in 33 matches in his debut season at Anfield, it was clear that his aerial power would be an important part of Liverpool's attack for some years to come. But Toshack was more than just a tall target man. He could play a bit too as he would prove that time and time again. The arrival of Kevin Keegan before the 1971/72 season was a godsend for Toshack and Liverpool. They became the quintessential big target man and the smaller forward playing off him. A typical Liverpool attack was a pass from the wing, headed down by Tosh for his smaller accomplice, Kevin Keegan, to score.

Liverpool hadn't won a trophy under Shankly since 1966 but came close in 1971 and 1972 in the FA Cup and the Championship respectively. Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-1 in the 1971 FA Cup final and Liverpool and Arsenal drew 0-0 in the final League game of the 1971/72 season when Liverpool needed a win to snatch the title away from Derby and seal a record eighth League championship. Toshack scored a legitimite goal against the Gunners but the offside flag was up to Shankly's disgust. Toshack was unlucky with injuries during his time at Anfield. He didn't suffer serious long-term injuries but usually niggling ones which meant that he only once played in 30 or more League matches in any of the six full seasons that he was a Liverpool player. Toshack missed 20 League games in 1972/73 but still scored 13 vital goals as the title was won after a tense struggle with Leeds and Arsenal. But it was in the UEFA Cup final of that year that Toshack made perhaps his most telling contribution. Left out of the starting line-up against Mönchengladbach on an evening when torrential rain caused the home leg to be abandoned after less than half an hour, he was brought in to replace Brian Hall 24 hours later and caused havoc in the Germans' defence, laying on two first-half goals for Keegan. He also played in the whole of the second leg in Germany two weeks later when, despite conceding two goals to Jupp Heynckes inside the first 30 minutes, Liverpool just held on to take their first European trophy 3-2 on aggregate.



Following Ray Kennedy's arrival and Shankly's retirement in the summer of 1974 Toshack lost his place in the starting line-up in the first month of the 1974/75 season. Toshack's frustration boiled over and on 21 November 1974 the club accepted a £160,000 deal for him to move to Leicester City. He, however, failed his medical and returned to Liverpool, which was a blessing in disguise. Three weeks later he recovered his place in the team and scored in his first three games back and didn't look back. The Reds were unable to retain their domestic crown in 1974 but ample compensation was achieved in the FA Cup when eight of the players who had tasted defeat against Arsenal three years earlier were named in the side to face Newcastle United. Toshack had already scored the only goal of a difficult quarter-final trip to second division Bristol City and the important third goal which sealed the semi-final replay victory against Leicester City at Villa Park. At Wembley it was his flicked-header from Ray Clemence's long kick downfield which allowed Steve Heighway to run on and put Liverpool into a commanding 2-0 lead with only 15 minutes left to play. 1975/76 was Toshack's most productive and injury-free season on Merseyside. He only missed seven League matches, played in 50 competitive matches for the club in four different competitions and again won League and UEFA Cup winners' medals in the same season. He passed 20 goals in a season for the only time as a Liverpool player, scoring a hat-trick of headers against Hibernian in the UEFA Cup and also the goal which brought a famous win in Spain against Barcelona in the first leg of the semi-final. At 27 years of age, he should have been approaching his peak as a player but injury meant that he missed the last part of the 1976/77 season and he could only watch and admire as his colleagues won the European Cup for the first time. 

After only making five appearances for Liverpool the following season, Toshack was on his way to Anderlecht for £60,000, but like when he wanted to move to Leicester, due to a calcification of a muscle he failed his medical again. Toshack felt a management route would then be the ideal next step and convinced Liverpool to give him a free transfer. He returned to South Wales in February 1978 to become player-manager at Swansea City. He enjoyed outstanding success there in the club's meteoric rise from the Fourth Division to the First. Toshack proudly led his team out at Anfield on 3 October 1981, an afternoon of mixed emotions after the passing of Bill Shankly who had brought him to Merseyside nearly eleven years before. As the teams lined up for a minute's silence in memory of the great Bill Shankly, Toshack took off his Swansea tracksuit to reveal underneath a red Liverpool shirt with his number 10 on the back. It was a moment which endeared him to the Liverpool supporters who had seen him score nearly 100 goals for the club but not so to the Swansea supporters who were quite insulted. 

Toshack had been a Welsh schoolboy international and was a member of his country's full international squad for many years, eventually finishing with 40 caps to add to the three he had won earlier at U-23 level. Although Swansea returned to the lower divisions almost as quickly as they had risen from them, Toshack's name and reputation had been noticed outside the United Kingdom and in the summer of 1984 he was named as the new manager of Sporting Lisbon. Although that post lasted less than a year, he later achieved success in Spain with both Real Sociedad and Real Madrid and is one of very few Britons to have won both league and cup competitions in another European country. In 1989 he flew back from Spain where he was managing Real Sociedad at the time, and stood anonymously on the Kop in the aftermath of the terrible tragedy at Hillsborough so that he could pay his own respects to those who had died supporting the club which had given him his big chance.

Toshack was manager of Wales for the first time in 1994, but only spent 41 days in the post, resigning after a 3-1 defeat to Norway. He took charge of the Welsh national team again in November 2004. Toshack left the Wales post after his country's defeat to Montengro in a European Championship qualifier in September 2010. Slightly less than a year later, however, he was unveiled as the new manager of FYR Macedonia. But John's association with Macedonia was only a brief one. After little more than a year his contract was terminated, apparently because he refused to relocate to the country he was manager of. In March 2013 Toshack took over as manager of Khazar Lankaran of the Azerbaijan Premier League.

Appearances per season

Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 172 24 13 36 2 247
1970-1971 21 7 0 5 0 33
1971-1972 29 1 1 2 1 34
1972-1973 22 4 6 8 0 40
1973-1974 19 6 2 3 0 30
1974-1975 21 2 0 2 0 25
1975-1976 35 2 2 11 0 50
1976-1977 22 2 1 4 1 30
1977-1978 3 0 1 1 0 5

A more detailed look at the player's appearances

Total Opponent
14 Leeds United
13 Arsenal
12 Leicester City
11 Derby
11 Tottenham
10 Newcastle United
10 West Ham United
10 Everton
10 Wolves
9 Manchester City
8 Coventry City
8 Stoke City
7 Chelsea
7 Ipswich Town
7 Manchester United
7 Birmingham City
7 Burnley
6 Carlisle United
6 QPR
6 Southampton
5 Crystal Palace
4 WBA
4 Sheffield United
4 Dyn. Dresden
3 Aston Villa
3 Hibernian
3 Bristol City
3 Norwich City
3 Nottingham Forest
2 Bayern Munich
2 Servette
2 Sunderland
2 Saint-Étienne
2 Gladbach
2 Real Sociedad
2 Bruges
2 Ferencvaros
2 Dynamo Berlin
2 Red Star Belgrade
2 Slask Wroclaw
2 Barcelona
1 Crusaders
1 Trabzonspor
1 Frankfurt
1 AEK Athens
1 Aldershot
1 Jeunesse d'Esch
1 Huddersfield Town
1 Middlesbrough
1 Swansea City
1 Luton Town
1 Oldham Athletic
1 Blackpool
Total Started/substitutions
237 Started
8 On the bench
10 Substitute
29 Substituted
Total Competition
172 League
24 FA Cup
19 UEFA Cup
13 League Cup
8 European Cup
5 European Fairs Cup
4 European Cup Winners Cup
2 Charity Shield

Goals per season

Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 74 8 3 10 1 96
1970-1971 5 1 0 1 0 7
1971-1972 13 0 0 0 0 13
1972-1973 13 2 1 1 0 17
1973-1974 5 3 2 1 0 11
1974-1975 12 0 0 0 0 12
1975-1976 16 1 0 6 0 23
1976-1977 10 1 0 1 1 13
1977-1978 0 0 0 0 0 0

A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring

Total Started/substitutions
96 Started
0 Substitute
Total Competition
74 League
8 FA Cup
7 UEFA Cup
3 League Cup
2 European Cup
1 European Fairs Cup
1 Charity Shield
Total Goal minute period
14 1-15 minutes
11 16-30 minutes
17 31-45 minutes
16 61-75 minutes
16 76-90 minutes
Total Open play/Penalty
96 Open play

Milestone Appearances

# Date Against Stadium Competition
1 14.11.1970 Coventry City Anfield League
50 13.11.1971 Everton Goodison Park League
100 07.02.1973 Manchester City Maine Road FA Cup
150 01.02.1975 Arsenal Highbury League
200 13.03.1976 Birmingham City St Andrews League

Milestone Goals

# Minute Date Against Stadium Competition
1 76 21.11.1970 Everton Anfield League
50 46 14.12.1974 Luton Town Anfield League

Related Articles

Hot shot Toshack worth a ‘cap’

The Daily Mirror on 6 December, 1963.More

I just had to move

From the Liverpool Echo in November 1974.More

The big interview

By Mark Platt on 16 August 2006.More

Birmingham have the Blues over Toshack treble

The Coventry Evening Telegraph report on Liverpool - Birmingham City on 11.10.1975. More

Toshack the new record signing

The 21-year-old John Toshack was at the time Liverpool's most expensive buy.More

How Bení­tez built Liverpool

The side that plays Manchester United tomorrow bears the mark of a manager who has figured out the English game. Article from the Guardian on 21.01.2006.More

Toshack and Keegan as Batman and Robin

John Toshack and Kevin Keegan were the quintessential strike pair.More

Toshack leaves Liverpool

From the Daily Mirror on 21 November, 1974.More

Gosh it's Tosh

It is maybe a little known fact by many Liverpool supporters that Toshack has tried his hand at poetry. "Gosh it's Tosh" is one of his creations.More

Related Quotes

"I'm not sure Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley ever had a coaching badge between them at Liverpool. but the basis of everything I've done in coaching, I learned at Liverpool between 1970 and 1978. I've never seen anything to change my mind since. It's paying attention to the small things, what Shanks called the recipe."

John Toshack

"The greatest achievement in football since the Second World War."

Shankly on John Toshack's feat to take Swansea from the Fourth Division to top of the First

"If somebody had told me when I left Liverpool that Real Madrid would dispense with my services twice I'd have said, 'Where do I sign?'"

John Toshack

"I don't like champagne, I don't smoke cigars, I haven't any real jewellery at all, apart from the 8 pieces of gold I picked up at Anfield, the most important relationship at a football club is not between the manager and the chairman, but the players and the fans."

John Toshack

"Myself and Kevin Keegan worked up a good understanding and as a partnership we flourished. We seemed to hit it off from almost day one and then got better and better as time went by."

John Toshack

"Toshack was a wonderful player to play alongside. His aerial ability was fantastic and I always knew that he was going to win the high balls. From then on it was just a question of me reading which way the ball was going to go and from those situations we created many chances. I always admired Tosh's honesty as a player. He was a nice approachable lad and he did a really great job for the club during his time here."

Kevin Keegan on his striking partner, John Toshack

"Welcome to Liverpool, son. You have come from Sunday School into Church."

What Bill Shankly told John Toshack when he greeted him at Lime Street Station on 11 November 1970

Scrapbook

Other Clubs

Club Season Club rank League apps League goals Total apps Total goals
Cardiff City 1965-1966 England Second Division 8 6 9 6
Cardiff City 1966-1967 England Second Division 23 10 25 10
Cardiff City 1967-1968 England Second Division 35 11 45 13
Cardiff City 1968-1969 England Second Division 41 22 46 24
Cardiff City 1969-1970 England Second Division 39 17 47 20
Cardiff City 1970-1971 England Second Division 16 8 21 13
Swansea City 1977-1978 England Fourth Division 13 6 13 6
Swansea City 1978-1979 England Third Division 28 13 34 14
Swansea City 1979-1980 England Second Division 16 5 22 9
Swansea City 1980-1981 England Second Division 3 0 5 0
Swansea City 1981-1982 England First Division 0 0 0 0
Swansea City 1982-1983 England First Division 0 0 0 0
Swansea City 1983-1984 England Second Division 3 1 4 1
Total 225 99 271 116
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