Recalled Newcastle defender Steven Taylor 'would run through brick walls' for England
Newcastle defender rewarded for best spell of career with return to the national squad
There are phone calls a parent receives from their children that they do not forget: an exam result, or the birth of a grandchild. Late on Monday night, Steven Taylor called his dad and told him he was in the England squad. He was on his way to the Newcastle United training ground to get his boots when he rang. He had to be back home to get picked up by the Football Association before being taken down to Birmingham. On Friday night he will be in the squad to face San Marino in a World Cup qualifier. It will have been some week by then.
The Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew, has led renewed calls for Taylor to be an international defender in the past month. He is 27 now and has not played better at club level. Those 29 caps for the Under-21s, many as captain, seem an awfully long time ago, the last one coming in 2009. Roy Hodgson ignored the first round of calls for Taylor when he named that fateful squad on Thursday. Rio Ferdinand was in that one, as was Gary Cahill. Both had withdrawn by the time Taylor received his call from the FA.
Taylor, who signed for Newcastle when he was 16, has been in a full squad once before, in 2007, when Steve McClaren was in charge. He did not play then and three months later McClaren was gone.
Newcastle's relegation from the Premier League in 2009 did not help his cause. There have been injuries as well since Pardew helped sort out a new, five-year contract for the centre-half to stay at St James' Park, one of the manager's first acts after he took over at Newcastle in December 2010, but the past two months have been his best. In the absence of Fabricio Coloccini, there has been extra responsibility, and Taylor has taken it.
In the immediate aftermath of Newcastle's Europa League victory against Anzhi Makhachkala, a matter of hours after missing out on Hodgson's squad, he spoke of still wanting to run through brick walls for his country.
Taylor is good at soundbites but in light of the recent chaos at international level, it is a refreshing outlook. "I was in an England squad once before and it was an amazing experience and of course I would love to be involved again," he had said. "It is the pinnacle for any footballer, you dream of representing your country.
"It seems like a long time ago but I was called up in 2007 for a game against Germany and although I didn't get on the pitch, it was incredible just being around the England squad. I would love to get to that level again, but it is all about being consistent on the pitch and proving yourself every week.
"I heard from Fabio Capello that he wasn't going to pick any players from outside the Premier League so, when we got relegated, it was clear I wasn't going to get back in. That was fair enough. It is the manager's decision and he made that. I was disappointed at the time, of course I was, but the priority then was getting Newcastle back into the top flight, which we did after a season.
"I would run through brick walls to play for my country. It would be the proudest moment in my career and if it comes, I would be absolutely delighted, over the moon, call it what you want. I will be there. You cannot get any higher than playing for your country."
It is a refreshing sentiment in light of recent events.
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