Shankly walks alone as the man who 'invented Liverpool'

JOHN Toshack believes the values which created Bill Shankly's legend 50 years ago will be just as important in 50 years time.

Liverpool will celebrate a half-century since Shankly took over as Anfield manager in December, and Toshack – one of the great man's favourite "sons" – has paid tribute to the Scot's influence on his own management career. Wales manager Toshack made his name as a fearless Liverpool striker alongside Kevin Keegan – and then with two spells in charge of Real Madrid. But it was the inspiration of Shankly that put the Cardiff-born front-man on the road to fame.

Toshack said: "I suppose he invented Liverpool as the club they are now. You only have to go there now and you see the foundations he laid down 50 years ago are still evident. Shanks used to say, and it is poignant now because it is 50 years since he was appointed, that 'the most important things in football were important 50 years ago and they will be important 50 years from now'. Shankly is the most important thing in the history of Liverpool and he will still be important 50 years from now.

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"Everything he did, the style, the system, the way Liverpool played, is still in place. Still as relevant now as it was all those years ago. He gave Liverpool that mystique, that aura of greatness. Without a shadow of a doubt."

He added: "His beliefs carried on through Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan, Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans. That was the testimony to what he built there. Liverpool then was nothing like it is now. He put everything together. From training ground to the stadium. I speak for not only myself, but for people like Emlyn Hughes, God bless him, and all the rest of the lads he took from lower division clubs and gave them the chance of playing for Liverpool.

"You see the money being paid for players now, it's amazing. But he created a great team with very little outlay by comparison. Kevin Keegan from Scunthorpe, Emlyn Hughes from Blackpool, Phil Neal from Northampton, Ray Clemence from Scunthorpe, I was from Cardiff, none of us were from top-flight teams. Steve Heighway from Skelmersdale, little Brian Hall, people he signed and formed into a team all came from lower divisions, you just could not do that these days."

Injury ruined Toshack's time at Anfield, but he absorbed the methods and technique of Shankly ahead of his own first move into management as player-manager at Swansea, where he took the Swans from the old Division Four to the top flight.

Toshack said: "He didn't really coach, I don't recall anyone telling me what to do. But they watched us all closely before they signed us and then pieced us all together into a team. The training was simple. Control, pass, move. We worked with the ball every day, they had the training routines and set-ups always the same. But it was always enjoyable.

"Shankly always had a story to get his point over. You might not always have had a good day or feel right, but by the time you went out to play for him you knew how important Liverpool was. He almost invented Liverpool as a great club, the magic, the mystique. He created one great side that won the cup, and then he created another one equally as good. But he only used, I think, 14 players one season in 60 games. He would not have understood rotation. When you asked him what the team was, he said, 'The same as last season'. Shanks almost changed the way fans perceived managers. He was Mr Liverpool, unique."

Toshack left Liverpool in 1978 after scoring 96 goals in 246 matches, and said of his mentor: "He did inspire me to become a manager. I finished as a top-flight player quite young because of my thigh injury. I was always keen. I went on a coaching course when I was 18 at Cardiff with John Charles. I passed and big John failed, and that put me off (organised coaching] for life.

"John was the greatest footballer I have ever seen, but if he couldn't pass a coaching course, I wasn't that bothered about it much after that.

"When I went to Liverpool I didn't see anything there that changed my mind because they scorned such things then.

"Shanks passed on a great team to Bob Paisley, and from then on the club just didn't stop going forward. He had an incredible rapport with the fans, it was amazing to just watch it. And he took a lot of interest in me when I went into management at Swansea, who were in the Fourth Division.

"I took a chance there, and whenever Swansea were up north, Shanks would come to see me. He talked to me about management, there was plenty of advice from him that I have never forgotten. He was a unique personality and all of us who played for him owe him so much."

Timeline for foundations of the Anfield dynasty

1959: 1 DECEMBER

Appointed Liverpool manager after three years at Huddersfield, arriving with the club in bottom half of the old second division.

1961

Signs key players Ian St John from Motherwell and Ron Yeats from Dundee United.

1962: May

Having overhauled the training facilities and playing squad, Shankly guides Liverpool back into the top flight by winning Division Two by eight points.

1964

Wins his first – and the club's sixth – Division One title to succeed near neighbours Everton as champions.

1965

Liverpool reach the semi-finals of the European Cup before being knocked out by the tournament's eventual winners Inter Milan. Liverpool win their first FA Cup with extra-time victory over Leeds.

1966

Liverpool win Division One championship again. Defeated 2-1 in extra time by Borussia Dortmund in European-Cup Winners' Cup final at Hampden.

1967

Signs goalkeeper Ray Clemence from Scunthorpe for 18,000.

1969

Liverpool finish runners-up to Leeds in Division One.

1970

Signs Steve Heighway, who was playing as an amateur for Skelmersdale United. Signs John Toshack from Cardiff City for 110,000.

1971

Liverpool lose 2-1 to Arsenal in FA Cup final. Signs Kevin Keegan from Scunthorpe for 35,000 and plays him up front with Toshack. The pair go on to become one of the greatest strike partnerships in the game.

1973

Shankly wins Division One for a third and final time as manager. Guides Liverpool to victory over Borussia Moenchengladbach, who included former Scotland manager Berti Vogts in their ranks, in a two-legged Uefa Cup final to secure the club's first European trophy.

1974

Liverpool finish Division One runners-up to Leeds. Shankly collects a second FA Cup with 3- 0 victory over Newcastle in the final. Retires as Liverpool manager at the age of 60 to spend more time with wife Ness and his family. Awarded the OBE.

1981

26 September: Admitted to Broadgreen Hospital after a heart attack.

29 September: Dies in the early hours of the morning aged 68.