Wellington Scoop

Phoenix veteran retiring – because of challenges from covid

phoenix retiring

Report from RNZ
Wellington Phoenix veteran Steven Taylor says the reality of another season based in New South Wales is behind his shock decision to retire.

Coming less than a week after he was named the team’s new captain, Taylor confirmed on Tuesday he was stepping away from professional football with immediate effect.

The announcement came with the new season less than two months away, with the Phoenix scheduled to open their campaign on November 21st.

In a statement released by the Phoenix, the 35-year-old Englishman said the challenges that Covid had forced on him and the team had taken its toll.

The team were based in New South Wales last season and last week announced they would be doing the same for the upcoming campaign.

“Last season was tough … the thought of having to re-locate and hub again – I got caught in a lockdown at the end of last season and then again [in Wellington] one day after I got out of managed isolation – it’s feels like it’s followed me everywhere,” Taylor said.

“I haven’t had any type of a normal life for some time. There’s only so much of that I can take and I haven’t seen my family [in the UK] in a long time.

“As a professional footballer in the UK I’ve always had my dad watching my games – from when I first started with Newcastle United and having him watch me from the Terraces at St James’ Park – so it’s come to that period of my life where family is more important than football and I’m excited for the next chapter and to see my family back home.”

Taylor, who spent 13 seasons in the English Premier League, joined the Phoenix in 2018 and played two seasons before departing for India after the 2019-20 season.

He then returned midway through last season, before signing a one-year contract extension, but would finish his time at the club having racked up 61 appearances.

Phoenix general manager David Dome thanked Taylor for his contribution to the club and said they understood the decision.

“Covid has been tough on this Club, its players and staff over the past two years; especially for Steven with six stints in quarantine – that’s three months alone in a hotel room – over the past two-odd years; that kind of thing takes a toll on a person.

“We have the utmost respect for Steven and wish him all the best for his post-playing career; we know he’ll approach this next phase of his life with the same courage and determination as he did his Phoenix playing career.”

Taylor said he left Wellington with a heavy heart, but also with great memories of his time with the players and the fans.

“I want to say a massive thank you to all the Kiwis for their support, the ‘Nix fans, the Yellow Fever – I hope they saw in the games I’ve played that I gave my all for the Phoenix shirt and I left everything on the pitch.

“Coming back to New Zealand at the end of last season, the atmosphere was phenomenal – and you want to play in big atmospheres, you want to play in front of the Yellow Fever so I’m really going to miss that.

“To play my final games in front of Phoenix fans in both Wellington and Auckland was something special, two moments that I’ll never forget.”

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