Whilst most of the world is currently in lockdown due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, we caught up with OL Reign and England star – Jodie Taylor to discuss her amazing career in Women’s Football.
From Tranmere to Washington via 12 other clubs across six different leagues and success with England despite her late arrival into the senior squad, Jodie has had a fantastic career as she talks candidly about perseverance, adaption and her plans for life after football.
- Who inspired you to become a footballer?
Taylor: “My dad inspired me to become a footballer because from a very young age I was around the game.
“My sisters and I would go along to my dad’s games (he played low level in the UK) even though we would mostly be playing with the other kids, and enjoying a game of pool and a packet of crisps in the pub after the game!
“It wasn’t until I was around 7 years old that I began to play myself and fell in love with the game. I used to play with my dad in the back garden all the time, he bought me a goal and I would take shots on him.
“We would try and get Chelsea my twin sister to play, but she was more interested in doing cartwheels and handstands (she eventually began to play and we played on the same club team growing up).”
- You enjoyed a prolific goal scoring youth career and senior debut for Tranmere Rovers, before moving to America on a scholarship. During that time, you played in the USL W League before moving to Melbourne Victory in Westfield W League, but how different were those two leagues in comparison to the WSL with Birmingham City between 2011-13?
Taylor: “I have been very fortunate to have played in a number of different leagues across different countries. The leagues that I have played in have all been so different and unique.
“At the time, both the English WSL and Australian W League were considered semi professional but all leagues have developed and grown so much now.
“I would therefore say the biggest differences between the leagues were in the style of play. England has always been very advanced technically and tactically, and culturally such a huge influence with men’s football.
“My experience of playing college in the US was brilliant. It was extremely challenging both physically and mentally alongside completing 2 degrees so it was a busy time!
“Even back then the college set-up was so professional in terms of access to facilities, training and playing full-time, resources etc. I really enjoyed playing in Australia, although it was, and still is, a very short season (an off season league) – it was a great blend of American and European football. “
- Having then spent time at Goteborg before heading back to Westfield W League then to NWSL in between a brief WSL return with Arsenal, how have those experiences of playing in different leagues every few years helped you to develop as a player?
Taylor: “I believe playing in many different leagues across different countries has really helped me develop as a player, and as a person.
“I found that in order to be successful, you have to be able to adapt. Adapt to a new style of play – a new philosophy. Culturally adapt on and off the field.
“It was around this stage in my career where I really enjoyed moving countries and playing for different teams. I felt like I was always learning new things, having to adapt and it was a great challenge.”
- 2014 saw you make your international bow for England after several years of impressive performances at club level. Looking back, how much did it mean to receive that call-up given how far you have come since that debut?
Taylor: “It meant so much for me to make my debut for England. Not many people know this, but I didn’t receive my first cap for England until I was 28 years old. It was such a proud moment for me (and my family) – that the hard work, persistence, and never give up mentality paid off.
“To look back on the 2015 World Cup, winning bronze medal and making history with our National Team, to then winning the Golden Boot at the 2017 European Championships, to the 2019 World Cup going toe to toe with the US and almost making it to the World Cup Final.
“It’s been great because a 27 year old Jodie could never have imagined she still had all of this to look forward to. And there are still even more amazing memories to be made.”
- We are currently starting to see a resurgence of England as serious contenders across both sides of the game. Do you therefore feel that this could act as extra physiological motivation for the Lionesses to continue to improve as both senior teams look for a first major trophy since the men won the 1966 World Cup?
Taylor: “Absolutely. One thing in particular I have seen develop over the last 5 years of my time in the England National Team setup is that there is a real hunger and belief that we can win a major trophy. It truly is an exciting time for English football!”
- Finally, what are your hopes and expectations for the future?
Taylor: “I have many! I would absolutely love to win an NWSL Championship with OL Reign! That is on the top of my list for 2020!
“In terms of international football, we have an extremely exciting couple of years ahead, with Team GB and the Olympics, and a home European Championships. It would be amazing to be a part of these major tournaments and I will be doing everything I possibly can to be.
“Off the field I have recently got involved with FIFPro and the player global council, as well as the players association here in the US, so that’s been great. I completed my B licence coaching last year and hoping to start the A licence this year.
“The game has given me so much and I want to give back to the game and help continue to grow women’s football for the future.”