A top class coach with a bright future or a cheap option that has failed to capture the imagination of Cardiff City supporters. Paul Trollope divides opinion.
On the terraces at the Cardiff City Stadium he will need early success to silence sceptics, something Trollope himself acknowledged when he was unveiled as the Bluebirds’ new head coach.
But within the game, and especially in Wales, he is seen as a bright star who has received praise from the likes of Gareth Bale, Wales manager Chris Coleman and Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins.
Now promoted to be the main man for the Bluebirds, Coleman’s number two in the Wales set-up is even being mentioned as a future head coach for the national side.
But who exactly is Paul Trollope?
Born to be in football
Football and loyalty are ingrained in Trollope, whose father John is a record holder after turning out for Swindon in 770 games between 1960 and 1980. No one-club man has played more games in English football history.
“It introduced me to football from a very early age,” Trollope explained.
“I spent all my school days watching Swindon and having access to the game behind the scenes,” Trollope explained of his early introduction to the game when Swindon were enjoying a mini-revolution under managers like Ossie Ardiles and Glenn Hoddle.
Still a teenager at the time, Trollope didn’t make the grade in Wiltshire, but caught the eye of Neil Warnock during his time at Torquay United and his impressive displays led to a six-figure move to Derby County.
Finally in the Premier League, Trollope then made his international debut during Bobby Gould’s controversial tenure as coach, qualifying through a Welsh grandparent.
Gould believes Trollope has all the right credentials as a coach. “Knowing when to say something and when not to say something, that’s the identification of a good coach and Paul has that,” he said.
Trollope never became a mainstay for the Rams and switched to Craven Cottage, playing a pivotal role in the Fulham side managed by Jean Tigana, another key influence.
“I have to say that spell with Tigana when we won promotion had a big influence on me as a coach and my philosophies,” Trollope reflected.
Trollope wound down his playing days with Bristol Rovers, but it was to be the beginning of his transition to coach.
Youngest manager in the Football League
His appointment as caretaker/player boss of Rovers in 2005 raised eyebrows, considering he was just 33 at the time and just 18-months earlier had made the last of his nine Wales appearances.
“It was something I knew I wanted to go into. I was thrust into it, but felt ready,” Trollope said of his surprise appointment.
He took Rovers to the FA Trophy final in 2007 and 12-months later enjoyed glory at Wembley when Rovers went up in the League Two play-offs, Trollope’s reputation was growing.
His sacking from Rovers in December 2010 caught many people off guard, especially a few months earlier he was seriously considered for the Swansea City job before Brendan Rodgers was appointed.
Speaking just days before Rodgers was appointed, Swansea chairman Jenkins said: “I’ve seen the names being linked with us in the papers, but I don’t understand why people are not looking at the managers who are doing a great job under a limited budget at other clubs lower down the leagues.
“Look at Paul Trollope at Bristol Rovers for example – he’s done very well there.”
Return to football and move to Wales
Trollope returned to the game as a coach under Chris Hughton at Birmingham City, also following the now-Brighton boss to Norwich in 2012.
Trollope now has the top job at an ambitious Championship club and believes it has come at exactly the right time, while Wales and Cardiff are in no rush for him to end his role with Wales whose players the BBC understands highly-value the 43-year old.
“Since being in the management/coaching game, it has always been my aim to be in this position,” he told BBC Wales Sport after his promotion at Cardiff.
“It’s a good challenge. One I am really very much looking forward to getting started with and I had no reservations, none at all.”
Cardiff fans will wish Trollope well, but all Welsh football fans should be watching his progress with interest.