Steven Taylor reflects on life after Newcastle proving his fitness over a gruelling League One campaign with Peterborough
It was the start of something for Newcastle United under Rafa Benitez. And the end for Steven Taylor.
On April 15, 2016, Taylor played the last of his 268 games for the club.
Relegated Newcastle, memorably, beat Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 at St James’s Park.
Taylor, only in the starting XI as Jamaal Lascelles had fallen sick on the eve of the game, left the pitch at St James’s Park, for the final time as a United player, with a mix of emotions after keeping Harry Kane off the scoresheet.
There was a contract on the table, but Taylor, reluctantly, felt he had to leave his boyhood club to play week in, week out.
“I’d lived my dream since my debut against Real Mallorca (in 2004) – but it was time to move on,” said Taylor, now 32. “I didn’t want to be a bit-part player.”
Almost two years on, Taylor is at promotion-chasing League One club Peterborough United.
Having put the injuries that interrupted the latter years of his United career behind him, Taylor’s played 48 games, more than he ever did in a single season at Newcastle.
“On a positive note, it’s been an injury-free season,” said the defender, who has also had spells at Portland Timbers and Ipswich Town since leaving St James’s Park.
“One of the big things was getting a run of games and playing as much as possible.
“In previous years, I’ve had some problems with injuries, and it’s nice to play every game. It’s been a positive season. I’m feeling in good form. The confidence is there.
“I’ve looked after myself with my nutrition and training regime.”
Taylor – who hopes to win promotion to the Championship with Peterborough – believes he can play at a higher level.
Reflecting on the injuries which sidelined him at United, he said: “I was always getting the big injuries – it was never the small ones.
“It was frustrating. But I went to America and played every game out there.
“This season, (Peterborough director of football) Barry Fry said to me ‘listen, we’d love to have you here’. Nobody knew if I could play the games.
“But the one thing I have done is looked after myself. I’ve trained and kept myself in great shape playing each week.
“The most I played for Newcastle, I think, was 44 games when I was about 23-years-old.
“To do that now, I’ve tweaked a few things and sat down with a few people. The main thing that I’ve changed is my nutrition.
“People say the lower down you go, the harder it gets, and I think you’ve got to accept there’ll be no easy games.
“One thing I haven’t done is take anything for granted.”
Taylor – who has a year left on his contract at the Abax Stadium – is enjoying his football as much as he ever has done.
“I look at it as a lot of people put miles on their body,” said the former England Under-21 international.
“I use it as a positive. I haven’t had the miles on my body. I’ve still got a lot of games in me.”