IT’S often said football’s “a funny old game” – and doesn’t Ryan Taylor know it.
Taylor wondered what the future held for him at Newcastle United last summer after two and a half years on the fringes.
However, in only the second game of season the 27-year-old had written himself into Geordie folklore with his stunning winning goal against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
And last month the utility player signed a new long-term contract at St James’s Park.
Taylor – who has recovered from the calf problem which saw him sidelined last month – is expected to return to Alan Pardew’s side at left-back against Swansea City this afternoon.
It was there that right-footed Taylor excelled in the early part of the campaign in the wake of Jose Enrique’s sale to Liverpool.
Casting his mind back to pre-season, Taylor admits he had no idea of what the season held in store for him.
“Football’s a funny old game,” Taylor told the Gazette.
“I knew we were going to lose a few players, but I never thought I’d play 19 games at left-back – that wasn’t on the agenda!
“Obviously, I would have liked to have played in a more natural position, and it took a while to settle in.
“The season’s gone from strength to strength.
“To be rewarded with a new contract just shows I’ve come on in leaps and bounds this season.
“I’ve got to thank the manager for giving me my chance and having faith.
“It’s all down to sheer graft and hard work.”
Taylor – who made just three Premier League starts last season in a frustrating and injury-hit campaign – never whinged or moaned during his long spells out of the United side.
And it’s payback time for the former Wigan Athletic player, signed by Joe Kinnear in January 2008.
“Sometimes, in this business, you’ve got to take things on the chin,” he said.
“It’s how you react, and I’d like to think I reacted well in the past by not throwing my toys out of the pram, or going and knocking the manager’s door down.
“I just got on with it and knuckled down.
“It was a case of working hard and waiting for a chance to show what you can do.
“That’s what I’ve done, and the rewards are there at the end of it.”