By Atanu Mitra
Very few are aware that Swansea City and Welsh International fullback, Neil Taylor has an Indian connection with his mother hailing from Kolkata.
Taylor has already visited the City of Joy on a number of occasions and this time around took time to visit his kinsmen as well apart from interacting with the underprivileged as part of the Goalz project.
“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.
"It’s been a great experience. The people are polite here and they know manners,” he added.
The 24 year old who made only six appearances last season after having suffered a horrific ankle injury, stated that he is quite content with life at Swansea.
“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.”
Having plied his trade under Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup, the Welsh international praised the duo but mentioned that the current Swansea boss prefers to play a lot more direct.
"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.”
With Swansea having won the Capital One Cup last term, Taylor in particular highlighted the efforts of Michu who scored 18 goals in 35 games after his switch from Rayo Vallecano last summer.
"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.”
Swansea notched 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 press conference held at the British Council, Taylor talked at length about life in the English Premier League. 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. However he mentioned the name of Barcelona’s latest recruit who has impressed everyone with his performances at the Confederations Cup.
"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 Chelsea’s 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."
With Wales chances of making it into the 2014 World Cup looking slim, Taylor believes that they have a good chance of qualifying for the biggest footballing extravaganza in future.
"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."