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Cherries: Model behaviour for striker Taylor
Published : 08 Dec 2010 07:00:00
ALTHOUGH he has rubbed shoulders with some of the best strikers in the world, Lyle Taylor would rather be lining up alongside his Cherries team-mates. Taylor swapped the world of television advertising for the life of a professional footballer when he arrived at Dean Court at the start of this season. The 20-year-old, who was plucked by Eddie Howe from non-league Concord Rangers, used to top up his income by taking on part-time modelling work through former player Andy Ansah's company Sports on Screen. His assignments included starring with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Didier Drogba and Ronaldinho in a series of shoots for global sportswear giant Nike. It was an opportunity to earn some extra money for doing not a great deal! laughed Taylor, who also appeared in adverts for Chelsea's new kit and alongside Fabio Capello and Little Britain's David Walliams and Matt Lucas to promote the Nationwide Building Society. It was surreal, added Taylor. I used to look up to and watch these players on the television and then I was in adverts with them. Meeting Ronaldinho was just an unbelievable experience. The glitzy surroundings of Milan and Madrid, where some of the adverts were filmed, would have seemed like a different world to the mean streets of south London, home to the Taylor family. Born in Greenwich and raised in New Cross, Taylor, the second of three brothers, first kicked a football when he was 10. At 16, he was faced with a potentially-defining career decision. Once I had finished secondary school, I had to choose between either going to Kingston College and playing for Staines Town youth team or staying on at sixth form and giving up football. I chose college. I stayed with Staines for about 18 months and then went to Millwall for a trial. I earned a one-year contract with them but was released at the end of the 2008-09 season. Taylor was brought up close to where Damilola Taylor (no relation) was killed in 2000 and the youngster's tragic death had a profound effect on him. It was always an emotive subject where I lived, said Taylor. It's something most people have come to terms with now. There are always going to be people out to cause trouble. When I was at Millwall, I coached at the Damilola Taylor Centre in Peckham. Part of my job was to get as many kids off the street and using the facilities at the centre. Taylor, who earned a move to Dean Court thanks to a prolific season with Concord in the Ryman League, has hit three goals in four reserve games and has also made five brief substitute appearances for the first team. It's great being back in the full-time ranks, said Taylor, whose uncle Maurice Taylor is a referee based in Southampton. It has taken a little while to adapt, especially having come from non-league where I was training two nights a week and playing on a Saturday. I had a good year with Concord and was fortunate to be with a club where I was almost the focal point of the attack. That helped me score goals and mature as a player. I was lucky because Del Robinson, a guy who works for West Ham, would always look out for me. Now, I've got the manager and Jason Tindall looking out for me here. Having people who care makes life easier and more enjoyable. They have been working hard with me and are trying to get me ready to step on to the pitch. I'll keep working hard until the manager sees fit to give me my chance but I know the time needs to be right.