History, stature and tradition were just some of the qualities which persuaded Lyle Taylor, Sheffield United’s latest acquisition, to swap Falkirk for Bramall Lane, writes James Shield.
Having succeeded where the likes of Hibernian and South Yorkshire neighbours Rotherham failed, manager David Weir hopes his faith in the young centre-forward’s ability will be repaid with a flurry of goals and a repeat of the swashbuckling performances that saw him become one of Scotland’s most coveted young talents last term.
Taylor, who scored 29 times in 42 appearances for Gary Holt’s side, revealed he is under no illusions about the responsibility which has been placed upon his shoulders after a transfer potentially worth over £250,000 was processed yesterday.
But, as the former Millwall and AFC Bournemouth striker told The Star last night, he returns to England equipped with a burning desire to prove the doubters wrong.
“My career was a bit of a slow burn to start with,” Taylor said. “And there were lots of people writing me off so this is a chance to show them they made the wrong judgement.
“I did that at Falkirk and now I’ve come back to England I want to do it all over again. Going up there was brilliant for me.
“It wasn’t so much a case of what the people in Scotland taught me. More what they gave me. An opportunity to play.
“Whenever I’ve had that, be it in non-league or whatever, I’ve found the net. So now it’s my job to make sure I’m worthy of the same opportunity here and stay in the team, to get that run and do the business here.”
Taylor, aged 23, progressed through the ranks at The New Den before switching to AFC Bournemouth following prolific spells with Eastbourne Borough, Croydon Athletic and Concord Rangers.
But it was not until he joined Falkirk 12 months ago, that the potential which persuaded Steven Pressley and then Holt to invest time and effort in his services was fulfilled.
“I owe them a lot,” Taylor said. “So often it’s the case with young players that they end up getting dropped or not given any exposure if they don’t do the business after two or three matches.
“Then they end up just drifting out of the game and getting lost rather than making any sort of progress. That’s a real shame because they probably could have gone on to do something.
“But what Steven, Gary and others at Falkirk did was to show that belief in me; to leave me in there if it didn’t happen one weekend and let me go out and try things again.”
“I can remember when I first arrived, (assistant manager) Steve Crawford told me ‘your movement is excellent’ but you’ve got to put it to good use. Now go out there and work it out for yourself’.
“I enjoyed doing that because I like trying to adapt without losing sight of what I’m good at. I’ve been fortunate to work with some excellent names up there, some really knowledgeable people in fact, and so the things I’ve picked up to them should come in useful.”
Weir, who could hand Taylor his United debut at Mansfield Town this weekend, yesterday described the youngster as “having a little bit of everything” when asked to outline the qualities he will bring to a team which begins its latest League One campaign against Notts County next month.
“We have fought off competition to secure his signature,” Weir said. “And delighted that he’s come here.”