Steven Taylor

In the first of a new feature taken from the official matchday programme against Tottenham Hotspur, United's stars talk candidly about their life on and off the pitch. First up, is defender Steven Taylor, who reveals all about dressing room pals, penalties and magic…

 


I was glued to the Olympics over the last few weeks.

It was inspirational. We were all watching it and every day the lads would be talking about it in the changing room.

When you watch the athletes, cyclists, rowers, swimmers, divers and all those guys, it was unbelievable seeing what they put themselves through.

Everyone was talking about how London 2012 could 'inspire the next generation' and I think it really could do that.

People will be going out trying new sports thanks to the Olympics. They will want to aspire to be these top athletes and that can only be good for the future of sport in this country.

 

I used to play a lot of tennis when I was younger and have recently started to get back into it.

I'm trying to adjust back into it, because I have dislocated both shoulders in the past, so that makes it tough.

But it's a good sport. It keeps you fit, keeps you on your toes and is good for your calf muscles and feet, especially after my Achilles injury last season.

There's a big tennis culture at the Club at the moment and some tidy players. Shola (Ameobi) and Willo (Mike Williamson) lead the way at the moment but I could definitely challenge them!

Once I start playing regularly again there's no doubts in my mind I could beat them. I've watched them play and they are definitely beatable!

 

I sit in between James Perch and Ryan Taylor in the dressing room.

My shirt is the second one when you go in the door - I've had that spot for years and that will never change.

Ryan and Perchy have both got some banter about them. Ryan is a bit of a smelly guy and is always trying to nick a few bits and bobs out of my washbag.

I've had to introduce him to some nice stuff, but being a scouser it's obviously difficult for him!

 

I don't think there is one particular dressing room joker any more at the Club.

We all have a bit of banter and it's good - there's lots of people who chip in with it.

That's healthy. Instead of just having one person you want the whole changing room to be involved.

It's good to see that and even on a day-to-day basis the coaching staff and the guys behind the scenes get involved as well.

 

I have taken it upon myself to act as a bit of a father figure to some of the new players and the younger lads.

When I came through the ranks, was 16 and had left school, I got taken under the wing of guys like Aaron Hughes, Jonathan Woodgate, Speedo (Gary Speed), Shay (Given) and Big Al (Alan Shearer).

I haven't forgotten that and it really helped me. They were very good towards me, so I'm trying to do the same for new players who come into the dressing room.

Take young Adam Campbell, for example. I'll make sure he gets in amongst it because you don't want him ever feeling left out.

When youngsters join in with the first team squad you have to make them feel welcome, and the same goes for our new signings.

 

I am in charge of the music in the changing room, and we've got a bit of everything going on.

You have to cater for everyone's taste, so there's a bit of Usher, Pitbull, Trey, Drake, and some holiday songs too which I've introduced.

A few of the foreign lads have got this new one - Danza Kuduro - which they all want to listen to as well.

I went around the lads and asked what people want, and then create playlists from that.

 

I have suffered a few injuries during my career, but the worst was my ruptured Achilles.

Nothing comes near that. It wasn't necessarily the most painful - that was both of my dislocated shoulders.

But for the length of time out and how hard it has been, definitely it was my Achilles.

It plays on your mind, you don't know how long it's going to take and when two or three months pass by you are still wondering what's happening.

It's a long process that you have to deal with and I was disappointed I couldn't be back out on the pitch to build on a good first half of the season, but it's made me a lot stronger as a person.

 

I want an injury-free season this year.

I haven't had too many of them over the last few seasons.

You always expect the odd niggle here and there and a couple of weeks out, because that's just normal these days.

But I'm praying for no more long-term injuries now, not just this season, but for the rest of my career.

I want to continue playing week-in, week-out and I'm in the best hands here at Newcastle to do that.

 

I always eat the same before every match.

A chicken breast with pasta and a poached egg. I try to get a little bit of everything in there!

It's what I've always had and what I will continue to have.

 

I would absolutely step up to take a penalty if we were in a penalty shoot-out.

You could put me wherever you wanted to put me - whether it's first or last, it doesn't bother me one bit.

I did it for England a couple of times, including the European Championships semi-final for the Under 21s.

In that game I did my ankle and so they put me at number ten in the shoot-out because they thought I wouldn't be able to take one.

It went right through so I was forced to take one, and scored.

In my career I've taken four and scored all four so am very confident and comfortable from there.

 

I idolised Tony Adams growing up.

He's a guy who was a brilliant defender. I looked up to him, had a lot of respect for him for what he achieved, and you could learn a lot from him just by watching him.

When it came to Newcastle games though it was Phillip Albert.

That's one of the reasons why I've got the number 27 shirt, because of Albert.

Jonathan Woodgate had it after but once he left I knew I could get my hands on it.

 

I play a bit of cards with the boys - some poker and some Uno.

We've got a good group and we all go round each others' houses to play, as well as playing on the bus to away games and in the canteen at lunchtimes.

We aren't stupid with it - the whole point is to get the lad together and it helps bond us.

No-one is particularly good or bad because it's all about luck. You can have someone who is daft as a brush - like Jonas - and they could play stupid cards but end up winning.

Video-gaming is also quite big at the Club, and that group is mostly the married guys with babies, who can't do anything else than sit there with a baby in one hand and a controller in the other!

It's people like Ryan Taylor - they're the geeks! They spend all day doing that and have no life now, so they are normally pretty good at it.

 

I love doing a bit of magic in my spare time.

It sounds like a strange hobby for a footballer, but it's something I really enjoy.

In recent years SoccerAM have tried to get me on to do stuff and I used to do a few entertaining nights for the England boys in the Under 21 set-up.

I've cooled it off a bit recently, but I'll introduce some more this season.

It's things like card tricks, coins and stuff like that. I haven't got into sawing anyone up yet, but I will do a few tricks on the lads this season, for sure.