New Signing For Phoenix

When Lee Taylor saw a strange number flash up on the screen of his mobile phone while sitting in the kitchen with wife Leanne watching Sky Sports a few weeks ago his first inclination was to ignore it.

He thought it could be one of the phone scams prevalent in England.

Leanne convinced him to answer it, but the voice of Wellington Phoenix football operations manager Mal Impiombato didn-t at first convince him the call was genuine.

“I-d not long since lost my job as strength and conditioning coach at Notts County when Paul Ince was sacked as manager and had been applying for a position at two or three clubs,” Taylor, who prefers to be known as LT, said.

“One of my mates is great at different accents and I thought it was him winding me up.

“Mal convinced me he was calling from the Wellington Phoenix and said the club wanted to talk to me about going to New Zealand.

“Soon after that I got a call from Chris Greenacre, who had been on loan at Scarborough when I was there, asking if I had got a call from the club. Obviously he had talked to them about me.”

The next call Taylor received was from Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert and from the moment he put the phone down he knew where his future lay.

“I talked to Ricki for a long time and was impressed with his calm, positive attitude,” he said.

”Straight away, for the first time in my career, I felt wanted. He made me feel very good.

“There were a few more discussions and then it was all sorted out. It has been something of a whirlwind.”

Taylor made his first appearance as strength and conditioning coach at Phoenix training on Friday July 1 and soon put the players at ease with his mixture of fun and firmness.

Rather than it being his first session, Taylor looked as though he had been there for ever as he went about his business.

“I love my job and I am disciplined. I want the players to be just as disciplined as me, but I want them to enjoy being there at the same time.”

It should come as no surprise that Taylor is so at ease in a footballing environment.

His father Tommy, an English international, spent 10 years at West Ham United, making 340 first team appearances. He also had two spells at Leyton Orient either side of his West Ham days, playing 230 times for the club.

In management Tommy Taylor had spells at Margate, Cambridge United, Orient, Farnborough Town, Kings Lynn, and Boston United.

“I grew up in a footballing family, it was in my blood,” Taylor says.

“As a youngster I played for Maidstone United in the old fourth division but got released. I tried a few other clubs but realised my future wasn-t as a player so went and got qualified as a physiotherapist.

“I did play in America for a while and spent six months in Australia at Shepparton before going home and joining the backroom staff at Cambridge United.

“I was No 2 physio at Leyton Orient then got the break I needed by joining third division Scarborough when I was only 20 years old.”

Taylor quickly developed a good reputation and was head of medical services at Barnet, Luton Town, Wimbledon and Boston United before joining Liverpool in 2007 where he did fitness and physiotherapy work.

When Paul Ince became manager at Notts County he asked Taylor to join him and he was happy there till Ince got the sack.

“That-s the way football is. When a new manager takes over he usually wants to bring his own people in.

“It could turn out to be a blessing for me. I-ve got a feeling I-m going to love New Zealand.”

Leanne and the couple-s two children, Courtney, 10, and Harrison, 7, will join Taylor in Wellington soon.