The Wellington Phoenix have re-signed veteran defender Steven Taylor for next season on a one-year deal.
35-year-old Taylor re-joined the Phoenix in March after leaving the club last year for a stint with Oshida FC in the Indian Super League and played in 11 matches – including nine starts – so far this season.
Despite his short time back, Taylor has already showed he still can have a big impact on the club with the Phoenix going unbeaten in eight matches that Taylor started and played the full 90 minutes in [four wins, four draws] while conceding an average of 0.75 goals per game – an improvement on the Club’s average of 1.36 goals conceded on the season.
Taylor said the Wellington Phoenix and its fanbase has a special place in his heart, which made re-signing an easy decision for him.
“Coming back [to the Phoenix] was a no-brainer for me, I want to be around these guys again so I’m delighted to be here next season,” Taylor said.
“I had a good chat with the Manager [Ufuk Talay] and he’s been class all the way through; I love the style of play that we play, I love the Phoenix fans and the boys in the squad."
Taylor said that although the team’s playoff hopes for this season are now over, he is proud of what the club achieved.
“I’ve been very fortunate that the team’s performances since I’ve been here have been on par with last season; the stats speak for themselves, but the main focus had been to get into the playoffs where this club should be.
“You look at the team this season and we’ve always been in every game – the quality is always there with the lads, it’s just a matter of building consistency, confidence and momentum.
“And once we get a couple of wins under the belt, you know in football how quickly things can change and it has – it’s a credit to the lads, the confidence throughout the whole group throughout our unbeaten run.
“And it’s not just myself, it’s the likes of the foreign boys like Tomer Hemed, David Ball and Ulises Davila – it all helps massively with the young boys coming through as we’re a very young squad.”
Talay says that it is often the intangibles that define Taylor’s impact on the field.
“Tays is a leader for us first and foremost; he brings us that experience, determination and passion on the field that helps everyone on the squad to lift their games,” says Talay.
“He’s someone we know we can rely on to bring it 100% every match and solidify our backline – our defence and decision-making is simply better when he plays."
“Retaining Taylor is key for us going forward so I’m happy to see him return to the Phoenix next season, and I know the fans will be happy to see him back.”