Steven Taylor: Talentspotter

Newcastle's long-serving defensive rock speaks to FourFourTwo in September 2006. 

Born
Greenwich 23/1/86

Position
Defender

Nickname
It's usually just 'Tayls' which I've had since I was a kid but some of the lads also call me 'Braveheart' because of the blocks and last-ditch tackles I make.

Team supported
It's always been Newcastle United. My earliest memory was the Champions League game against Barcelona when Tino Asprilla scored a hat-trick - one hell of a night! The 5-1 defeat of Manchester United also sticks in the memory, especially Philippe Albert's chip over Peter Schmeichel.

Strengths
Heading, blocking, tackling, pace. I'm also quite versatile, having played at right- and left-back, as well as my favourite position, centre-half.

Weaknesses
My left foot and my decision-making. All-round, though, you can never stop learning.

Heroes
Tony Adams is my all-time favourite for the way he led both Arsenal and England. He was a winner and so commanding. I was fortunate enough to play six games on loan at Wycombe when he was the manager and some of the things he taught me during my month there were invaluable. John Terry displays the same attributes as Tony.

Highlight
Making my home debut against Everton in November 2004 was a special moment. I only found out I was playing about two hours before kick-off and to play in front of 52,000 people is every young Geordie's dream.

Lowlights
I have mixed memories of my full away debut at Bolton in March 2003 because the only goal of the game came from my side of the pitch, and I didn't play again for a year. It was also very disappointing to lose the FA Cup semi-final to Manchester United 4-1, not just because of what was at stake but because we had such an amazing support that day in Cardiff.

Honours
I was England captain at U16 level, which was a massive honour, then played for the U20 side at the World Youth Championships in Dubai when I was 17. I then broke into the U21 squad at the age of 18, making my debut against Holland, and came through with the likes of Aaron Lennon, Tom Huddlestone and Luke Moore.

Best player played with
Jonathan Woodgate. When I played alongside him in that game against Bolton, he was encouraging me all the time and was a good leader. In training, you never saw him on his backside, he was very pacy and very good in the air. He has everything a top defender needs. Facing Michael Owen in training has been a real learning curve but he will help by telling me how to mark him and what positions to take up. Also playing and training with a legend like Alan Shearer has only helped me as well. He was like our manager on the pitch.

Toughest opponent
Ruud van Nistelrooy because he plays on your shoulder a lot. Early last season I faced him and you know that one slip and he will punish you - that's the main difference between reserve and first-team football; you will get punished ifyou take your eye off the ball for a split second.

Biggest joker at the club
It was Alan Shearer, but now he's left it's Stephen Carr and Steve Harper. They're always playing pranks, but I can't put into print what they get up to!

Most embarrassing moment
I got sent off against Aston Villa for deliberate handball and tried to disguise it by falling backwards. My mates said it looked like I'd been shot by a sniper, and it was shown on Soccer AM's 'Platoon' for weeks.

School report
I always got stuck into my schoolwork but it suffered in the end because I was often away with football. I picked up five GCSEs and my strongest subjects were Spanish and IT.

Wheels
I've got an BMW X5. It's nice and comfortable, not too flash like some of the Ferraris you see in our car park, but I'm happy with it.

Last iPod download
James Blunt, but I usually listen mainly to R'n'B. In the car on the way to games Usher helps to get me get in 'the zone'.

Chicks
Jessica Simpson would be my ideal woman for obvious reasons.

Flicks
My all-time favourite is Men Of Honour, a diving film with Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jnr. On a comedy tip, I also like Cool Runnings.

TV Programmes
As far as soaps go, I always watch Coronation Street. I'll also watch Big Brother and X Factor - in fact anything that's on TV!

Tell us something we don't know
I'm not a bad singer and last year won our Christmas karaoke competition. Any Ronan Keating ballad will do for me and I've now got a karaoke machine in myhouse!

Describe yourself in five words
Ambitious, confident, modest, down-to-earth, happy.

From the September 2006 issue of FourFourTwo. 


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