It took a few years, though, before I started to think about following their pathway into coaching.
I’d had a taste of it early on in my career, when I’d gone on a preliminary badge coaching course while I was at Cardiff. The thing that stuck with me most from those 12 Thursday night sessions was that John Charles – who for me, was the greatest thing I’d ever seen – was on that course as well.
Well, John failed the exam. And that put me off coaching a little bit.
But then I developed a problem.
In 1974 I had a medical to sign for Leicester City and because of a muscle injury I failed it. As a 25-year-old with a family to look after, hearing a specialist say that I might only have a year left of my playing career was a big blow.
I went back to Liverpool, but it was a difficult time for me there. Bob Paisley had taken over from Shanks and I had the feeling that he wasn’t 100 per cent with me. Fortunately, I still had 18 months left on my contract, so I made it work. I did more specialised training; went down to the swimming pool a few times a week; focused on shorter, sharper sessions. That way, I was able to turn things around and play on for some considerable time.
“When I look back at the type of manager I was then, I recognise the habits that I’d picked up at Liverpool”
But that period got me thinking about the game a lot more. I started to appreciate things that maybe some other players took for granted. I started to think about management.
My time at Liverpool came to an end when they agreed to sell me to Anderlecht for £80,000. I went over there, did the medical and, just like Leicester had done, they turned down the deal.
Liverpool were going to struggle to get any money for me if I couldn’t pass a medical. So I asked if they’d let me go for free. That way I could go down to the lower divisions and see if I could get a role as a player-coach somewhere.
Cardiff was my first thought, but they didn’t fancy the idea. I think the Cardiff manager Jimmy Andrews was a bit too concerned for his own future.
In the end it was a chance meeting with the Swansea chairman at a sports trade fair that led to me being offered the player-manager role there. It was a chance to get back home to south Wales, and to learn my trade as a coach.
I just went bang, straight into it. At the age of 29, I was the youngest manager in the Football League.