Pics: Telegraph.co.uk & Dawn Marshall
By Phil Brennan
THERE aren’t many Non-League coaches who can claim to have been inspired musically by Ant & Dec, kept Janet Jackson off No.1 spot and represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest.
But Daz Sampson is more used to being Top of the Pops than mid-table in the North West Counties League First Division, as he currently is with Ashton Town.
The 41-year-old has led a colourful life since a motorbike accident ruined his chances of turning professional as a youth teamer at Stockport County.
He went into radio broadcasting at 17, then became a mobile DJ, which is how he came across TV’s top double act when they were music industry laughing stocks going by their screen names from children’s show Byker Grove.
“I was playing at a club one night and the ‘star turn’ was a duo off the telly called ‘PJ and Duncan’,” recalls Sampson. “I remember watching them and thinking: ‘I could do that’.
“A couple of weeks later a pal and I went into the studio and recorded our own version of Kung Fu Fighting. A few weeks later we had a recording contract and were performing on Top of the Pops.”
Further success in the music industry saw Sampson rack up millions of record sales with a variety of musical partners including the legendary Glen Campbell, and his album kept Janet Jackson off the top of the Japanese charts.
The song that made him a household artist as a solo artist, however, came when he decided to enter his own song, ‘Teenage Life’, into the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006.
“I had my dream of playing football taken away from me, and I’m now lucky enough to be able to coach players, but that was like my equivalent of playing in the World Cup,” says Sampson.
“As much as people may have thought that it wasn’t a serious attempt at winning, I was honestly gutted that the song didn’t fare better. It did however sell almost half-a-million copies.”
Sampson soon built up a cult following in Europe on the club circuit as a DJ, then owned a nightclub in Poland – where he made his return to football, spending three years coaching a semi-pro club.
He continued coaching in Guam and then Florida, before returning to these shores last year to start on his FA coaching badges.
Sampson took up an offer from old friend Mark Hayes, the Ashton chairman, to join John Brownrigg’s management team at Edge Green Street.
“John is a great guy and he was comfortable with the offer of another pair of hands,” Sampson adds. “I believe that I have all the right tools to make it as a number one in my own right. Top selling pop artist to top football manager – why not?”
The full version of this interview can be read in Issue 6 of The Non League Magazine, out on February 12.