Welsh young guns convince Toshack to extend contract

Manager signs two-year deal with hope of taking new generation to major finals
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The Independent Online

John Toshack has agreed a two-year extension to his contract that could see him become second-equal in the list of the longest-serving Wales managers.

The former Real Madrid coach has been in charge of Wales since November 2004, with his current deal running out early next season at the end of the World Cup qualifiers.

It has long been expected that Toshack would stay on. The Football Association of Wales (FAW) has been delighted with his five-year stay, which – with the aid of Under-21 coach Brian Flynn – has seen the national squad transformed with an influx of youngsters.

In fact, Toshack was told before Christmas that he could have a new contract if he wanted one and since then the FAW has waited for his decision.

Now Toshack, who will be 60 next month, has accepted a new two-year deal that could eventually stretch his stay in charge of the Welsh set-up to seven years. That equals the time Mike England, who took over in 1979, was in control of the country's fortunes. The longest-serving Wales manager was Dave Bowen, between 1964 and 1974, a record that is not likely to be broken.

Toshack, it is believed, has considered coaching and director of football roles in Spain, where he still spends much of his time. But his decision to stay on with Wales has been reached after he reviewed the progress being made by his young squad. They may not quite be experienced enough to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but Toshack firmly believes this current crop of players can reach a major finals.

Toshack will now be in charge of Wales until the end of qualifying for the 2012 European Championship, due to be held in Poland and Ukraine.

An FAW spokesman said: "The Football Association of Wales is delighted to announce that John Toshack, national team coach, has accepted a two-year extension to his contract."

"Mr Toshack will continue his excellent work with the Wales senior international team until the end of the Euro 2012 campaign."

There have been several discussions over the new deal, and the FAW council has ratified the move.

Wales' last game was a 1-0 win over Denmark in Copenhagen in November, with Toshack's next game in charge being against Poland in Portugal next Wednesday.

Toshack has presided over 40 Wales matches, winning 17 and drawing eight. In that time, he has withstood plenty of criticism for the way he rebuilt former manager Mark Hughes' squad.

He ruthlessly ended Robbie Savage's international career while having experienced players like Ryan Giggs, Paul Jones and John Hartson retire from international football.

There has also been a group of other players who have been jettisoned after falling out with Toshack, including Danny Collins, Ben Thatcher, John Oster and Paul Parry.

But Toshack sees a bright new future based around youngsters like Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey, Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, Chris Gunter, Gareth Bale (both Tottenham) and Cardiff's Joe Ledley. All have been promoted quickly from the Under-21s and now form the basis of Toshack's squad.

A wealthy man who already has homes in Swansea, Majorca and San Sebastian, Toshack does not have the need for constant employment. Frequently he has said "someone else will have the benefits of what has happened with this new Wales squad".

Now, it seems, Toshack wants to be around to see the fruits of his rebuilding develop further and hopefully become the first Wales coach to qualify for a major tournament finals since 1958.

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