ONE WEEK after his erstwhile Liverpool co-striker Kevin Keegan took over one of the most important jobs in international football, John Toshack became coach of one of the world's biggest clubs.
The Welshman was confirmed as the new man in charge at Real Madrid last night and will be officially presented at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium tomorrow evening, before taking charge for Saturday's match in Seville against Real Betis, a spokesperson said. Whether his appointment will be any more permanent than Keegan's four-month stay as England's temporary coach is a moot point. He will be the ninth coach employed by Lorenzo Sanz since he became Real's president in November 1995.
Toshack signed his contract in Istanbul yesterday after Real agreed a pounds 400,000 compensation deal with the Welshman's previous employers, Besiktas. "Toshack is leaving us and is going to Real Madrid," a spokesman for the Turkish club said. "He called the head of the club last night [Tuesday] and said he wanted to leave."
Toshack, who coached Real from 1989 to 1991, is to replace the Dutchman Guus Hiddink, who was sacked in the early hours of yesterday morning after a meeting of the Spanish club's executive board. The decision came despite a 1-0 win over Racing Santander in the Spanish Cup and, according to reports, took just over an hour to reach.
"We had no choice," Sanz said. "The directors have taken a decision we don't like but we have decided that it would be better if Guus Hiddink goes. The fact that this is something neither I nor the directors wanted to do indicates that the situation is not good."
Although Real are the current European champions and play their Champions' League quarter-final first leg against Dynamo Kiev in Madrid next Wednesday, their domestic record is poor by their elevated standards and they lie sixth in the 20-team Spanish League, seven points behind the leaders and their keenest rivals, Barcelona. They share with Salamanca the worst defensive record of 36 goals conceded.
Toshack, 49, who guided Swansea City from the Fourth Division to the First between 1978 and 1981 and was manager of Wales for 47 days and one match in 1994 before resigning, had 18 months left on his Besiktas contract but had been in dispute with directors at the Turkish club all season.
He joined them in June 1997 and last year guided them to the Turkish Cup while finishing sixth in the League. This season has been less successful, however, and at the weekend there was unrest among supporters after a 2-0 defeat by Gaziantep caused them to drop to third place.
Toshack, the winner of 40 Welsh caps between 1969 and 1980, still has a house in Spain, commentates occasionally for Spanish television and has made no secret of his desire to retire to the country where he first made his mark as the coach of Real Sociedad, winning the Spanish Cup in 1987.
He was appointed Real's coach in May 1989 and in his first season guided them to the Spanish title, scoring a record 107 goals and, although he was sacked 11 games into the following season, his reputation as someone who brought organisation to a talented but disorganised set of players survives.
If he accepts the job he will be Real's third coach since the German, Jupp Heynckes, was sacked despite leading them to their seventh European Cup title last season. Jose Antonio Camacho lasted just 22 days before resigning on a point of principle over the club's treatment of a colleague, and it was rumoured that the former England coach Glenn Hoddle turned down the job before Hiddink was installed last July.
The demise of the Dutchman, who guided the Netherlands to fourth place in last summer's World Cup, had been predicted since Christmas and accelerated with the recent publication in a Dutch newspaper of an interview in which Hiddink was quoted as criticising Real Madrid's financial structure.
He was quickly and publicly admonished by Sanz for speaking beyond his brief as a coach - but the timing of Hiddink's departure is unusual even by Madrid standards set by the eccentric Jesus Gil at neighbouring Atletico.
Real's Champions' League match against Kiev made an early appointment imperative, and Toshack quickly stepped into the breach.
More football, page 31
THE JOHN TOSHACK STORY
1949: Born 22 March, Cardiff.
1966: Signed professional terms with home-town club Cardiff City. Welsh Cup winner in 1968, 1969 and 1970.
1970: Signed by Liverpool. Won three League championships in 1973, 1976 and 1977, the FA Cup in 1974 and two Uefa Cups in 1973 and 1976. In eight seasons at Liverpool he played over 200 games, scoring 95 goals. Also won 40 caps and scored 13 goals for Wales.
1979: Became player-manager at Swansea City, moving from Liverpool on a free transfer. Took club from the English Fourth Division to the old First Division and completed second hat-trick of Welsh Cup wins, from 1981-83.
1984: Moved to Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon.
1985: Signed as coach of Real Sociedad of Spain. Won the Spanish Cup in 1987 and the following season guided the side to second place in League.
1989: Appointed Real Madrid coach. Won League championship in first season in charge as side scored 107 League goals - a record that still stands.
1990: 18 November: Sacked as Real Madrid coach after three successive defeats.
1991: Began second spell at Real Sociedad, originally as an adviser and later as head coach.
1994: 28 January: Appointed Wales coach on part-time basis. Resigned after just one game, a 3-1 defeat by Norway.
24 November: Sacked as Real Sociedad coach.
1995: 23 March: Appointed coach of Deportivo La Coruna taking over on 1 July.
1997: 9 February: Resigned from Deportivo.
1997: 25 June: Appointed coach of Turkish club Besiktas. Finished sixth in League.
1999: Yesterday: Returns to Real Madrid as coach after the sacking of Guus Hiddink.
REAL MADRID COACHES 1960-99
1960-74: Miguel Munoz (Sp)
1974-77: Miljan Miljanic (Yug)
1977-79: Luis Molowny (Sp)
1979-82: Vujadin Boskov (Yug)
1982: Molowny (Sp)
1982-84: Alfredo Di Stefano (Sp)
1984-85: Amancio Amaro (Sp)
1986-89: Leo Beenhakker (Ned)
1989-90: John Toshack (Wales)
1990: Di Stefano & Jose Antonio Camacho (Sp)
1990-91: Radomir Antic (Yug)
1992-94: Benito Floro (Sp)
1994: Vicente Del Bosque (Sp)
1994-96: Jorge Valdano (Arg)
1996: Arsenio Iglesias (Sp)
1996-97: Fabio Capello (It)
1997-98: Jupp Heynckes (Ger)
1998-99: Guus Hiddink (Neth)
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