Bob Latchford: I could have been Swansea City boss
18th September 2015
John Toshack, Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers, Michael Laudrup, Garry Monk - it is a managerial list that Bob Latchford could also have been included on.
Latchford, of course, proved a big success during his time at the Vetch, scoring 35 goals in 87 appearances during the Swans' first taste of top-flight football.
The striker, capped 12 times by England, would eventually leave with the club sliding back towards Division Four.
Having arrived from Everton, his time in South West Wales was a concoction of emotions and experiences that only football can serve up.
And when he looks back among his goals, the epic victories and spiralling financial problems within the club, there remains one regret.
"When Tosh left for a short period (in October 1983), I was offered the manager's job," reveals Latchford. "I was 32 at the time and I hadn't really begun thinking about management.
"I asked a lot of questions as I didn't want to go into the job in the dark, but I just couldn't get any sensible answers from anyone about what was going on. We knew it was in financial difficulty, but we had no idea how bad it was.
"So I had to turn it down. Looking back, I should have taken the job."
Now 64, Latchford is currently living near Nuremberg in Germany.
Even though he can't recall all of his 231 goals during spells at hometown club Birmingham City, Everton, Swansea, NAC Breda, Coventry, Lincoln, Newport and Merthyr, the memories of a glittering career remain clear as day.
"I have no clue how players can remember every goal, but I have so many cherished memories from my career," says Latchford.
"My time at Swansea - aside from relegation - were among the best. Swansea were the only top-flight club that wanted me, but I really was excited to join as the club were on the crest of a wave.
"My first game really was a dream debut. I had scored twice on my debut for Birmingham - my home club - but to score three for Swansea was a perfect start. You don't forget days like that.
"We could have won the league that year, but we fell away right at the end. It was a shame, a big shame.
"It was a bigger shame to see the club fall into financial difficulty, which meant players like myself were later sold to help stem the losses.
"I had a children's clothes shop in Swansea Uplands - it's now called Rainbow - and I was happy at the club. But I had to move as the club needed the money."
Latchford is back on familiar soil this weekend as he watches his former clubs do battle at the Liberty on Saturday.
He is the chief hospitality guest as the Swans host Everton, which falls in line perfectly with the release of his autobiography "A Different Road".
While he hopes for a high-scoring draw this weekend in order for both clubs to pick up another precious Premier League point, he has nothing but high praise for the roles both Roberto Martinez and Garry Monk have played in the Swans' remarkable rise.
"I'm sure supporters will compare the side I played in during the early 80s and the current crop, but it's difficult to compare as the game and players are different now," he says.
"But what I will say is what Swansea achieved back then by rising through the divisions under Tosh was absolutely unbelievable.
"What Swansea have done most recently is a fairytale - a phoenix rising from the ashes.
"From almost going out of business and the Football League to playing in the Premier League and winning a major cup. It's remarkable.
"So to see both Swansea and Everton competing so strongly in the division is something I'm pleased about.
"I'm really looking forward to the game. I saw last year's match, which was the first time I'd been back to Swansea since Robbie James' funeral, while Saturday's game should be really entertaining.
"It will be great to speak to Swansea fans about the old days and also the current squad of players.
"But as for a result - a 3-3 draw will do me fine. I wouldn't want to pick a winner."
Bob will be signing copies of his autobiography "A Different Road" between 4-5pm at Uplands Bookshop on Friday (today) and at Swansea's Waterstones on Saturday between noon-1pm.
Signed copies of his book will also be available from the Liberty Stadium Club Shop on Saturday.
Meanwhile, author Chris Carra will be signing copies of his book "Swansea City Miscellany" in the Club Shop on Saturday.
Priced £9.99, the book - published by Pitch Publishing, in association with the club - is crammed with hundreds of intriguing facts, stories and statistics from the club's 103 years.
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