2007-10 Wrexham |
2010-17 Swansea City, Free |
2016-21 Aston Villa, Exchange, 104 (0) |
AT A GLANCE
Neil John Taylor
Tuesday, 7 February 1989
St Asaph, Denbighshire
Tuesday, 31 January 2017
Steve Bruce |
Dean Smith |
First Squad Appearance
Saturday, 11 February 2017
Saturday, 11 February 2017
Wednesday, 20 January 2021
Final Squad Appearance
Sunday, 23 May 2021
Wednesday, 30 June 2021
(5 ft 8 in) 1.76 m
2017-18 Play Off Finalists |
2018-19 Play Off Final Winners |
2019-20 League Cup Runners Up |
Player #909 for Aston Villa, Neil John Taylor, has played as a left back for the club since the 2016-17 Football League Championship campaign.
Taylor was born in St Asaph, Wales on 7 February 1989.
Steve Bruce signed Taylor on 31 January 2017 from Swansea City in a swap deal involving forward Jordan Ayew in which Villa received an additional undisclosed fee of around £5,000,000.
Taylor made his competitive debut for Villa at the age of 28 in the 1-0 home defeat to Ipswich Town on Saturday, 11 February 2017.
He went on to make 14 appearances in the 2016-17 as Villa struggled to 13th place in the Championship however Taylor’s presence in the team coincided with Villa’s best run of the season as the team won 7 of 10 league games in his longest playing sequence of the season.
2017-18 saw Taylor installed as Villa’s first choice left back and he went on to make 31 appearances although towards the tail end of the campaign then manager Steve Bruce used Taylor more sparingly and the player missed out on the Villa’s Championship Play Off campaign.
Bruce continued to use Taylor fitfully in the 2018-19 season however on Bruce’s departure and Dean Smith’s arrival as Villa boss Taylor found himself back in favour and Smith used him as a virtual ever present throughout the rest of the campaign making 37 appearances including in the Championship Play Off final on Monday, 27 May 2019 when Villa beat Derby County to win promotion to the Premier League.
For the 2019-20 Premier League season Taylor faced more competition with the signing of Matt Targett as an option at left back however Taylor held his own in terms of team selection making 15 starts for Villa and chalked up his 100th appearance for the club in the win over Crystal Palace on Sunday, 12 July 2020.
2020-21 saw Targett in the ascendancy in terms of team selection and Taylor was limited to just two starts in the EFL Cup by the end of 2020 however Taylor was named in the squad - as an unused substitute - in eight of Villa’s 14 Premier League games to the turn of the year.
By the end of 2020 Taylor had made 103 appearances for Villa, behind only team-mates Elmohamady (119) Conor Hourihane (150) and Jack Grealish (201).
Taylor is one of the few British Asians in professional football with his mum having been born in Kolkata and has been joined in the Villa first team squad by Punjabi player Arjan Raikhy of the Villa Under 18 squad as Villa continue to represent the diversity of their community and fanbase with pride.
Although appearing in just one Premier League game, as a substitute, in 2020-21, Taylor had been a virtual squad ever present through to April 2021 but with his Villa contract due to finish at the end of the campaign the expectation was that 2021 would be Taylor’s last year as a Villa player. There was however strong recognition within the club as to Taylor’s dressing room influence and potential ability to become a quality coach, having seen the likes of Mile Jedinak make the step up the path was there should both parties have wanted to take it.
Taylor’s influence wasn’t just confined to Villa’s dressing room however as his support for a mentoring scheme for young Asian players showed.
“Society is changing. We are at the point now where everybody is united in the fact that if it happens [racism], it’s being reported, people are being found and we’re getting to the root of the problems.
“As a society, we are starting to realise that you can’t get away with what you say these days. You’ve got to be careful and I think that racial prejudice is starting to get out of the game.
“We’ve seen it with ‘Black Lives Matter’ and it’s great what is happening. Society is changing”.
“For Asians it’s about changing the narrative and what we want to do with the PFA is to be that focal point for people to be able to talk to - to talk to academy lads and for those lads to talk to players at under-10s and under-11s.”
“My lad plays football at under-sevens and I just want to see more Asian players. I live in Birmingham which has an affluent Asian community and I still don’t think I see as many Asian kids as I would like playing football. It’s about having them involved in all levels of football”.
Growing up in St Asaph in North Wales, Taylor says he was in a minority playing football as a British Asian child.
“I don’t think I came across many [Asian players]. Possibly some parts of the country had more than others but, in general, not many at all. I think that’s been the theme for many years and this is why we are trying to combat that now and try and build those numbers.”