Player Profile: Ian Taylor

A fans appreciation of a player isn’t always in relation to their ability shown on the pitch. Often it can be much less demanding than that, as it can be a player’s tireless hunger and enthusiasm for the game that can win over the fans and Ian Taylor was the embodiment of this.

This isn’t to say that Taylor was a talentless schmuck, as nothing could be further from the truth. His positional awareness and eye for a goal made him a vital component of Villa’s midfield during his nine year spell with the club from 1994-2003, but he was much more than just another talented Premier League player.

As a lifelong villa fan he seemingly held an extra sense of responsibility and pride whenever he pulled on the claret and blue shirt and that was evident in every performance he gave.

Apparently gifted with a radar that could detect where a ball would drop in the box, Taylor could usually be found latching onto such opportunities and more often than not smashing the chance in the back of the net and I have countless memories of such instances, most memorably in the 1996 League Cup final against Leeds.

His ability in the air owed much to his 6’ 2” frame, but against opposition of similar height he would be odds on to win the ball, as he was propelled into the air by sheer enthusiasm. Similarly he would always be found tracking back to defend, chasing the ball like an energetic Border Collie. Whether he would win the ball cleanly would be open to speculation, but his efforts were always appreciated.

Despite these great assets, his greatest possession was something far simpler, his long legs.

They never tired as they were aided by his long stride that helped him glide along the surface when others were working like a locomotive to get into the same position.

Fans of Port Vale, Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County and Northampton Town will also hold fond memories Taylor for many of the same reasons that Villa supporters do, but it will surely be fans of the latter that keep him in the highest regard thanks to his matching passion for the club.

Some players take on ambassadorial roles after retirement and can be seen occasionally as an after dinner speaker, complete with fixed grin and club tie. Whilst Taylor has played the ambassadorial role, he has done so not solely for the paycheque, but because he’s a fan.

A regular attendee of most games home and away, Taylor shuns the comfortable warmth and of the executive box and the accompanying canapés, as he can be regularly found watching the game from the cold of the stands.

An example of this was the Birmingham derby in the quarter-finals of the League Cup this season, when he chose to sit with the travelling support (Twitter photo above) and was penned in by the over-exuberance of the pitch-invading Blues fans, when in all likelihood he could have sat in much more comfortable surroundings had he so wished.

His willingness and joy at being a simple fan and not an untouchable hero of a club is a rare treat for any fan of modern football, as the elevated wages of modern footballers seems to promote their status and importance far beyond that of the common supporter.

Seemingly though Taylor has no such airs and graces and he serves as a rare reminder that beneath the piles of money and hideously pimped out cars there are still some footballers who love the game just as much as me and you.

There’s truly only one Ian Taylor.

Tags: Aston Villa, Ian Taylor

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