The Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor is hopeful of spending the rest of his career at St James' Park after signing a new contract that will keep him at the club until the summer of 2016.
The former England Under-21s international ended months of uncertainty over his future by penning the long-term extension, which is worth in the region of £10m over its entirety. "For me to get this contract means so much," he said after reducing but by no means bridging the gap on the club's highest earners.
Paying tribute to his agent, Paul Stretford, for his part in what have often been fraught negotiations which saw the 24-year-old placed on the transfer list in August as brinksmanship was employed on both sides in an effort to finally thrash out a deal, Taylor added: "Paul's taken a lot of flak, but I owe so much to him. He's kept me here for the majority of my career, and hopefully the rest of my career. It's my home-town club, it's going places and I want to be part of that."
Taylor, who has made almost 200 appearances for Newcastle, follows team-mates Mike Williamson and Nile Ranger in signing new long-term deals this season. "I've never once criticised the club. He added: "I'm not one of those players you see in football who, if things aren't going well, or if they don't get a contract, have a moan. I've never said I wanted to leave this football club. All the time I wanted to stay, it was between my agent and the board. It was totally business at the end of the day."
Alan Pardew, the manager, made securing Taylor down to a long-term contract one of his main tasks on his arrival earlier this month.
"I've always admired Steven," he said. "He can be the bedrock of our defence for a long time to come. It was important that we kept him here because he's still young, he's a Geordie and he's a top defender. He's played a lot of games for somebody his age, he's played in Europe and captained his country at under-21 level, and that says everything you need to know about him."
Newcastle travel to Tottenham today 48 hours after the 3-1 Boxing Day setback at home to Manchester City. The visitors will be without suspended captain Kevin Nolan. Tim Krul, the goalkeeper whose error gifted the visitors their opening goal, retains his place despite the return to fitness of Steve Harper. Andy Carroll is expected to overcome an ankle problem.
"It's a ridiculous schedule," Danny Simpson, the defender, insisted. He added: "It's not the holiday season for us but you just have to get on with it. We want another game mentally because we want to put right what happened against City, but physically the legs are screaming 'no'."
Pardew added: "Two games in three days puts the players at risk."