Steven Taylor reveals his only regrets about his time at Newcastle

Steven Taylor

Steven Taylor

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In 13 rollercoaster seasons, Steven Taylor made 268 appearances for Newcastle United.

And he scored 15 goals. And played in 32 European ties.

Not bad for a former ball boy.

But one statistic still troubles the defender, who called time on his long career at St James’s Park in the summer and joined MLS club Portland Timbers.

Newcastle were relegated twice during the 30-year-old’s time at the club.

And that’s two times too many.

Steven Taylor

Steven Taylor

READ MORE: Steven Taylor opens up about his new life away from Newcastle

Taylor, now rooting for the Championship club from the other side of the Atlantic, admits his injury-hit career at St James’s Park had its “ups and downs”.

Asked if he had any regrets, Taylor said: “Only that Newcastle got relegated twice.

“But there’s no point regretting other things. It makes you who you are.

When you play for Newcastle you’re going to have your ups and downs. Nothing’s every going to run smoothly.

Steven Taylor

“When you play for Newcastle you’re going to have your ups and downs. Nothing’s every going to run smoothly. You’ve got to be ready for the next challenge.”

That challenge turned out to be 4,600 miles away in Oregon.

Reflecting on his United career, Taylor said: “I went there when I was nine years old.

“I was a Whitley Bay lad who got the opportunity to play for his hometown club. It was something I had always dreamt out.

Steven Taylor

Steven Taylor

“For me to live my dream has been unbelievable. I’ve got to thank the club for giving me the opportunity, and to stay that long was amazing. I’ve got to thank the fans for their support, especially through the injuries I’ve had.

“We had some amazing nights, especially in Europe.

“There have been a few times in the past when people might have thought would I have gone. For me, it was always the right thing to do at the time.

“Playing for my hometown club was what I’ve always wanted to do. I enjoyed 100% of my time.

“I’ve got nothing but love for everybody at Newcastle, from the people who work in the kitchen since I left school at 16 to the kit men, medical department, the fitness people and all the coaches and managers I’ve had over the years.

“But I turned 30 and it was the right time to move on and explore something different.

Steven Taylor

Steven Taylor

“It’s a new challenge for me, a new chapter in my career, and something I’m looking forward to.”

Taylor was handed his debut in March 2004 by the late, great Sir Bobby Robson, who sent him on in a UEFA Cup tie away to Real Mallorca.

He went on to play for 11 more managers.

Reflecting on his career, he said: “It was a fantastic experience. I’ve learnt from all the different managers.

“I had a chance to represent and captain of England’s Under-21s. There was the FA Cup semi-final at Cardiff, UEFA Cup semi-finals and quarter-finals.

“It’s been really enjoyable. There was the likes of Alan Shearer, Gary Speed, Shay Given and Jonathan Woodgate, who took me under their wing.

“I remember being a 16-year-old with Tommy Craig and getting a chance to train with Sir Bobby Robson. It was every kid’s dream.

“But, moving on, it (leaving) was the best thing for me and Newcastle. I want to be playing football.”

Taylor’s final season at Newcastle proved to be a nightmare – for him and the club.

“Last time we went down, people said Newcastle were too good to go down,” he said.

“This time it didn’t really get expressed in the media, but the warning signs were there for four or five months.

“We were a 45-minute side. We played well first half or second half. We weren’t a 90-minute side. We had some tremendous players, but we couldn’t get any rhythm. We didn’t play as a team.

“One of the biggest things when you’re down in the Championship is building a team spirit.

“If Newcastle are to get back up they’re going to need team spirit, and I think the last few results and performances show you that they’ve got that. They’re going to need characters.

“We did it last time. It was a difficult pre-season. Everyone came back and we got battered 6-1 against Leyton Orient.

“It was kind of a ‘who wants to be here?’ thing. A few players didn’t put their hands up.

“I think now it’s different. It’s completely different to when we were down there last time. It’s got better. It’s much stronger. It’s going to be physically and mentally tougher.

“One of the big things is set-plays, and you can see Rafa Benitez is working on them. We conceded quite a few in the Premier League.

“They’re going to play at some difficult grounds. It’ll be difficult for some of the players who aren’t used to this kind of thing. Those players who’ve done it before will know what to expect.

“St James’s Park is going to have to be a fortress, and the manager’s trying to get a winning mentality.

“Every team will want to play Newcastle. It’s their final. There aren’t going to be any easy games, as we’ve seen.

“They’re going to be no time on the ball. They’ll be kicked, they’ll be players trying to get in their faces. Technically, they’ll be better than anyone, but it’s a very different game in the Championship now.”

Taylor follows the team’s fortunes closely from the USA.

“I’m always checking the scores and wishing the lads all the best,” he said. “I just hope we can get back up first time.

“I’ll keep everything crossed, but, for me now, this is my home now.

“I’m loving life out here and playing with a big smile on my face every day.”