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Interviews

A perfect fit, says former striker

1 November 2019

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Sheffield United and Gareth Taylor was, in the former striker's words, 'a perfect fit'.

As the Blades prepare to host Burnley, another of Gareth's former clubs, this Saturday, UTB - United's official matchday programme - caught up with the former Welsh international to discuss life at the Lane and at Turf Moor.

There is a full interview with Gareth in Saturday's edition, but here's a taster with some of the content that didn't make the final interview.

After spells at Bristol Rovers and Crystal Palace, Gareth arrived at the Lane ready to kick-start his career in 1996, and like many of the time, he found the right manager in Howard Kendall.

"I really enjoyed playing for Howard Kendall," explained Gareth.

"Howard and the club when I signed were just the perfect fit for me. I think it was at that point when I started to get picked regularly for Wales too. I just really enjoyed my time there, I loved the city and played with some great players.

"When I first arrived my strike partner was Andy Walker and I learnt a lot about the game from him. I then had the likes of Brian Deane, Jan Fjortoft, Petr Katchouro and Marcelo. We had a really good team.

"Howard made me feel at home from day one. We used to change at the Lane and then go to the training ground. It was my first day of training and it was set up for head tennis. It was Don Hutchison and I against the gaffer and Viv Busby. The net was in the middle, and the outlines were pitched in with string. Don has flicked the ball up to me, I was back peddling, kept the ball in but in doing so fell over the string wires. Everyone is laughing, and then Howard is stood over me announcing, 'Who's signed him?' - This was day one, and I knew straight away I'd made a great decision to sign."

Gareth was part of the side which reached the play-off final in 1997 and the semi-finals of the FA Cup and play-offs the following year.

Whilst the Blades couldn't make the final step into the Premier League, Gareth explains his time in S2 was one he still looks back on with great fondness.

"I still keep in touch with a lot of guys from that period," he said.

"I'm really good friends with Alan Kelly, he, and his wife, became godparents to my eldest lad. He was born in Sheffield too, so for me it was a great period in my life.

"We had a few managers in my two-and-a-half years there, but I had some really good times. It was tinged with a little bit of disappointment that we didn't perform on the day in the play-off final against my old team Palace. I did think we'd go well. We had a decent squad, and I think it only needed a couple of additions for us to be competitive in the Premier League, but it wasn't meant to be I suppose. I'm still good friends with Don Hutchison as well. I played with some really good players at the Lane.

With Burnley in town this weekend, Gareth admits he'll be keeping a keen eye on the score, after a successful stint at Turf Moor between 2001 and 2003.

"I try and get to Burnley when I can because it isn't far from where I live, and I would love to get back to Sheffield at little more if I could," Gareth continues.

"I still speak to Chris Wilder quite a bit and keep tabs on how the Blades are doing. I always keep an eye on my former clubs, but Burnley and United are right there at the top of the scores I look out for. Great to see them both in the Premier League."

There is much more from Gareth in Saturday's progamme as he lifts the lid on his projected move from the Lane to Dutch side Utrecht which would eventually fall through.

UTB is available from all the usual outlets this Saturday, priced at £3.50.


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