Kolkata: Very few people know that Swansea City and Welsh International fullback, Neil Taylor has a strong Kolkata connection with his mother hailing from the city of Kolkata.
Goal caught up with him for an exclusive chat while he was visiting the city.
The talented full back was unfortunately injured for the majority of the last season making only 6 appearances for Swansea, but is a member of the first team for his national side besides representing Great Britain for the Olympics.
Taylor has already visited the city a number of times before and besides his duty as an ambassador of the Premier League, took time out to visit his relatives in the city.
“It’s been a great experience. The people are polite here and they know manners,” he told while relaxing in the East Bengal tent in the evening.
Taylor interacted with the participants, coaches and coordinators of the Goalz project in the afternoon after having a press conference in the British Council. He played with the underprivileged kids coached by nine renowned clubs from Kolkata, including the popular quartet of Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Prayag United and Mohammedan Sporting.
“All the kids have got their own kits. That’s amazing. The infrastructure is good here,” remarked the footballer who had received the Club Ambassador of the Year award at Swansea and was pretty happy at how the kids had been trained.
Talking of his future, he seemed sure to continue with his current club for the time being. “I have a contract till 2016. I am happy in the club and my family also thinks that. So, I look forward to the coming season.”
Talyor has played under the tutelages of both Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup and highly regarded them both, while admitting that Laudrup had made them play more directly.
"They are very different managers. Rodgers gave me the first chance of playing top-class football and obviously Laudrup came in place of him when he left for Liverpool. Now, we play more direct football and build up the attack with less passes."
The player seemed happy with the way things turned out for the Wales club. “It’s been a great season for us. We won the cup (Capital One Cup) also. Michu has been excellent upfront scoring so many goals. That has helped the team.”
Last season, the Swansea right-back Angel Rangel overlapped at will and Ben Davies, the replacement for injured Taylor was the more defensive of the full back duo. Taylor however indicated that things will change this time around.
"I prefer overlapping than staying back and you can see both of us going on the attack more often, this season."
Swansea often managed to score valuable points against the big teams in the league, drawing matches against Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea in the last edition of the Premier league. However, they were not the most consistent side as they faltered against the bottom-placed teams of the table.
“This happened mainly due to lack of concentration. Against the big names you have the motivation and play your hearts out,” he said.
In the preceding press conference, he talked at length about life in the English Premier League. Last summer, he was strongly linked to Manchester United, but the transfer did not materialize. However, he sounded eager to see how David Moyes would manage to cope up with Sir Alex Ferguson`s legacy, especially with Swansea playing their first match against the Red Devils
"The first match against Manchester United will be tough. The players will try to impress the new manager. Also, looking at the length of the contract of Moyes, I think they have identified him as the next Alex Ferguson."
When asked about the most dangerous striker he has ever faced, the player didn’t name any of the forwards he has faced in his 2 year span at the Premier League.
"Neymar is the best I have played against. I remember playing against him before the Olympics and most of the time I was just looking at his heels. I wish him all the best in Barcelona."
Talking about his role-models, he named Roberto Carlos, the talismanic left back who was in prime form when Taylor was growing up, while also lauding praise on England international, Ashley Cole.
“Roberto Carlos has been my idol. Among current players, I like Ashley Cole. He is consistent, has won trophies for his team, hardly misses any match and represents his country."
He signed off by saying that Wales now has a very good chance of making it into the big tournaments like European Championships and the World Cup, especially with a new generation of talented players.
"For the last few years, we have a generation of good players. Gareth Bale is certainly the most popular one in our country. We now need to deliver also at the big stages."