Swansea City defender Neil Taylor named Player of the Year at Asian Football Awards

Neil Taylor Player of the Year Asian Football Awards
Michael McCann
Neil Taylor is half British and half Indian

Wales and Swansea City defender Neil Taylor was named Player of the Year at the Asian Football Awards at Wembley on Thursday. The awards are designed to acknowledge the achievement of British Asians in English football, with Welsh-born Taylor notable in helping his country reach the 2016 European Championships.

Taylor has an English father and Indian mother but chose to represent his birthplace at international level, whilst also maintaining his identity as a British Asian. Speaking after collecting his award, the left-back urged others Asian players to follow his lead, adding that the opportunities do exist.

“The doors are there to be opened. Like I said when collecting my award, I think it is easy to make excuses,” Taylor said.

“People need to go and knock on those doors. Like the players and coaches tonight here said, go and try and push through. The so-to-speak race card cannot be played by people anymore these days, there are no barriers anymore – if you are good enough you will make it.”

Taylor also provided some valuable advice for those young players who are trying to, ultimately, like the defender, play in the Premier League one day.

“You need to focus on yourself, have the right network of people around you and you have a good chances of making it to play football at any level. You have to have passion for your sport, belief in yourself and you will get a bit of luck along the way if you put the work in,” he explained.

“You work in training, and take each and day and game as it comes – you can’t look too far ahead in football or life.”

I don’t see myself as a role model: Taylor

Event organiser and founder of Inventive Sports Baljit Rihal is hoping to raise awareness at the lack of professional players predominantly from a south Asian background. Though Taylor is certainly a valuable ambassador in this regard, the statistics suggest that there a vast amount of scope for future progression in this regard.

The most recent census, from 2011, showed that 5.3% of the 56 million population in England and Wales came from those of an Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin. Despite this, Taylor is one of just seven Asian players who hold a professional contract in the top four English divisions.

Wolves centre-back Danny Batth and Mansfield left-back Malvind Benning are the only others from the group who play regular first-team football.

However, Taylor explained that he does not actively think of himself as a role model.

“I don’t think of myself as a role model, I just think about myself and how I play football and I need to perform to be able to get these awards that allow me to be a role model.

“If I inspire one or two people that is great for everybody here and that is what we want. But I think essentially it’s going to be our generation of people, whether it is myself or any other sports figure, to play the game.

“Overall, if I inspire people that is great, but we need to look positively at Asian football and come out of the dark, so to speak.”

Edited by Staff Editor


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