The former England Under-21 skipper and Newcastle United defender appraises Highbury’s former talisman.
A six-game loan spell in 2003 gave Steven Taylor the chance to learn from an England star he had admired ever since he was a youngster. The former Under-21 captain was just 17 when he was sent out by boyhood club Newcastle United to gain some experience in Division Two with Wycombe Wanderers. At the time, the Chairboys were managed by former Three Lions defender Tony Adams.
Adams was a one-club man, playing over 600 times in a 22-year Highbury career, during which he earned 66 caps for England and captained his country on 15 occasions. He was also the last England player to score at the old Wembley, and appeared 59 times at the stadium for club and country – more than any other player.
After retirement Adams moved into coaching and was appointed manager at Adams Park. It was during his year with the club that Taylor worked closely with his idol.
“He’s always been my hero,” says Taylor. “I used to watch him on Match of the Day. He was such a commanding defender. He read the game so well and had a real presence.
“But I was very lucky to spend time working under Tony at Wycombe. It was a fantastic experience for me to get coaching from one of my role models, and one of England’s best ever defenders. He would get involved in training, too, and he was still a quality player. He was very clever, he put himself about and was very difficult to play against.
“I got to play alongside him a couple of times in the five-a-side games, and it really was like a dream. He told me that I should be confident in my own ability, aim to win my one-on-ones, always clear my lines and be resilient. I even had a few defending sessions with him and we practised the offside trap; the Full Monty when we all had our arms in the air!
“He was a great captain for Arsenal and England. A true legend.”