ISL 2020-21: I’m here to win, says Odisha FC captain Steven Taylor

ISL 2020: “I’m here to win. There’s no point in playing football if you’re not going to come to win,” says Odisha FC captain Steven Taylor ahead of his maiden Indian Super League campaign.

Steven Taylor

Steven Taylor, who made over 250 appearances for Newcastle United during his 13 seasons there, has his task cut out at Odisha FC.   -  Odisha FC

Odisha FC, erstwhile Delhi Dynamos, has failed to make it to the playoffs of the Indian Super League for the last three seasons, but captain Steven Taylor is confident of snapping the barren run this season.

The 34-year-old Englishman, who made over 250 appearances for Newcastle United during his 13 seasons there, has his task cut out.

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“I’m here to win. There’s no point in playing football if you’re not going to come to win. I was back home after the A-League season and watched my godsons play and found it amazing how nowadays every kid gets a medal for turning up. I don’t personally believe in that.

“For me, it’s either you win or lose – it’s as simple as that. Often no one remembers who finished second. All our players are hungry for it and our manager is as well. We haven’t come here to make the numbers up,” he said.

Steven Taylor

Former Newcastle defender Steven Taylor will captain Odisha FC this Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21) season.   -  Twitter @Odisha FC

 

Taylor is well aware of the challenge at Odisha, having faced a similar situation at his previous club Wellington Phoenix. “I want to bring as much experience (to Odisha FC) as I can as I did at Wellington Phoenix. We finished third last season when everyone had us down to the wooden spoon. We lost the first five games and people were writing us off. I knew once we get a few wins and goals, we could come around,” he said.

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Interestingly, Taylor played a vital role in helping Newcastle United gain promotion to the Premier League in 2019 within a year of its relegation.

The towering defender is only one of three players in Odisha aged above 30, with the club’s average age being 22. The seasoned campaigner, who has been hailed by his former managers as a strong leader, will be instrumental in his side’s development, mentoring the likes of Shubham Sarangi and Gaurav Bora along the way.

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Having teamed up ATK-Mohun Bagan’s attacking duo of Roy Krishna and David Williams earlier in the A-League, Taylor says he’s now relishing the chance to play against them in the ISL. “It’s no surprise how well David and Roy did last year considering how well they played in the A-League. Massive respect to them, they were fantastic. I’m looking forward to playing against them. It will be a nice and physical contest. It's a match that I am excited about.”

Former Newcastle defender Steven Taylor had captained Wellington Phoenix to a third-place finish in the A-League before joining Odisha FC.   -  TWITTER

 

Taylor comes to the ISL as one of the few players to have previously experienced life in a bio-bubble. “I never imagined the pandemic would happen, but these are the things we need to deal with. I experienced it last season at the end of the A-League. We were in quarantine and dealt with being in the hotel and got a bit used to that. The conditions are better here in Goa and everyone’s just excited for the season to start,” he said.

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Taylor added that matches behind closed doors could benefit a few teams. “Not having fans in the stadiums is going to change everything. The teams that people would normally write off could do well. It’s going to be an open season and I’m sure there will be a few surprises.”

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