Steven Taylor explains how he nearly moved to Turkey after leaving Newcastle United

Newcastle's Steven Taylor celebrates

The 30-year-old defender joined reigning MLS Cup champions Portland Timbers earlier this month, but things could have gone very differently had it not been for the recent attempted military coup in Turkey.

Newcastle's Steven Taylor celebrates

Portland Timbers new boy Steven Taylor has revealed to Timbers in 30 how he was caught up in the Turkish coup d’état attempt last month while negotiating a potential move to an Istanbul-based club.

Taylor, 30, had been a free agent before joining the Timbers earlier this month, having ended his 21-year association with Newcastle United in June when his contract expired.

The former England Under-21 international had been linked with Turkish giants Fenerbahce following his departure from St James’ Park [h/t The Scottish Sun], and he admits that he travelled to Istanbul last month to hold talks with an unnamed club about a possible switch to the Super Lig.

However, before the finishing touches could be put on the deal while he was out there, the experienced centre-back suddenly found himself caught up in the attempted military coup on the night of 15 July.

“Basically, a Turkish side came in for me,” Taylor told Timbers in 30 while explaining how things unfolded. “They expressed interest and got me out there. I spoke to the chairman of the club and agreed nearly everything until that night we went to a restaurant in Istanbul and everyone suddenly started leaving the restaurant very early.

“I had my dad ringing and texting me to ask if everything was ok, and I didn’t realise all the press that was going on at the time. Once we got out on the main road, everybody was queuing at the cashpoints trying to get money out, and we were just trying to get back to the hotel.

“As we were trying to get back to the hotel, the military came in and blocked us off. It was a nerve-wracking thing, but obviously out there we were in good hands. The Turkish people did look after us very well and I felt safe.”

Newcastle's Steven Taylor

The ordeal unsurprisingly put an end to Taylor’s chances of making the move to Turkey, but having also been in contact with Portland beforehand, the reigning MLS Cup champions soon offered him the chance of a fresh start in the States.

“It was just a thing that happened but, for me, I decided that money’s not everything,” he added. “When Portland came in, I spoke to the manager, spoke to the owner, and that was enough for me with what they’ve done from last season.

“Knowing [Timbers captain] Liam Ridgewell, to come out here was something I wanted. I wanted to have a new opportunity, a new lease of life and enjoy my football again.”

Newcastle United's Fabricio Coloccini (L) and Steven Taylor

Taylor has played twice for Portland’s reserve side in the US third tier over recent weeks in order to build up his match fitness, but he could now make his MLS debut on Sunday night when Caleb Porter’s side make the trip up north to face fierce rivals Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field.

The former Newcastle man is fully familiar with hotly-contested derby fixtures after facing Sunderland numerous times during his Magpies career, and he is hoping to put his experience to good use if he gets the chance to feature against Seattle.

“We always got told at Newcastle to play the game and not the occasion,” he added to Timbers in 30. “The first five or 10 minutes of these derby games are crucial. Don’t get sucked into atmosphere, concentrate on your job and stick to the basics."

Newcastle United's Steven Taylor celebrates

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