In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, the former Premier League defender expanded on what made him sign for the Bhubaneshwar-based club, the differences between the Australian and the American footballing culture, and his immediate goals.
Stuart Baxter has been assembling a star-studded squad with the help of club owner Rohan Sharma. After roping in former Hyderabad FC goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh and promising centre-forward Samuel Lalmuanpuia, the club acted fast to sign Marcelinho, now third on the list of all-time leading goalscorers in the ISL.
OFC has also signed Diego Mauricio and Manuel Onwu to form a fearsome front three alongside Marcelinho. They have also strengthened at the back by signing Jacob Tratt, who is entering the prime years of his career, and now the experienced Steven Taylor to lead the team from the back.
Talking about signing for the club, Steven Taylor revealed that a conversation with his countryman Stuart Baxter catalysed the signing process. He said:
I am very excited for the challenge ahead playing in the ISL. Speaking with the manager Stuart Baxter and hearing about his plans moving forward with Odisha made my decision very easy.
Looking forward to being in India and working with Stuart Baxter, meeting my new team mates to try and create something special with Odisha FC. It's going to be good to learn from his experiences, and definitely looking forward to enjoying my football in India.
After captaining Wellington Pheonix to their third-best season in the club's history and spending a couple of years the A-League club, Steven Taylor opted to cancel his contract with the club by mutual agreement. Clarifying the situation, the 34-year old said:
The uncertainty surrounded the A League and it was a very tough decision because I want to be playing football and enjoy my football. It was incredible year for Wellington making history for the football club finishing 3rd the highest in the club's history. I spoke with the manager and he understood my situation.
After spending most of his career in England, Steven Taylor has experienced the US football culture as well as the Australian football culture. He talked about how they are very different from each other:
Both are very different. When I was in the US, the budgets are so much more so clubs can spend a lot and attract top players from around the world. In the Australian A League, each club has a salary cap, so that makes it difficult for some clubs to compete with the bigger clubs in the league. But the competition was very good, it’s a very good standard both in MLS and Australia A League.
Steven Taylor's experience will be beneficial to young Indian defenders
Odisha FC has a lot of young defenders with the potential to develop into excellent players. Players like Gaurav Bora, Md Sajid Dhot, and Shubham Sarangi will benefit from Steven Taylor's experience of more than a decade at Newcastle United. He enjoyed a UEFA Cup campaign with the club before suffering relegation and winning promotion with them. He quipped:
I Will be speaking and working with the young Indian players trying to pass on my experience, values and leadership skills on to them to bring the best out of them.
Steven Taylor's leadership at the back and his mentorship of the young Indian players would be the key for Odisha FC's season alongside their world-class and potent front three of Marcelinho, Manuel Onwu and Diego Mauricio.
The former Newcastle United defender is targeting a playoff place for the club in the 2020-21 ISL season and cited it as an important factor while putting pen to paper at the ISL club.
Steven Taylor concluded:
I want to help the team to make the playoffs and win, that’s why I’ve signed for Odisha FC.Published 21 Sep 2020, 09:50 IST