Charlton Athletic: The life and times of Matt Taylor

The career path of Charlton Athletic's vice-captain Matt Taylor is one of the more extraordinary in football.

It is one of the more bizarre career developments of a professional footballer you will ever hear of, the story of Charlton Athletic centre back Matt Taylor is quite an incredible one.

The Lancashire lad started his career at Preston North End and Everton, nothing out of the ordinary there then. However when you consider the man now vice-captain and a regular in the heart of defence of a Championship side was in fact a goalkeeper you must then begin to have your ears pricked by curiosity.

After failing to win a contract at Everton he moved to Burscough FC in non-league football where he completed a famous triumph, helping the side to an FA Trophy win at Villa Park against Tamworth. His career then followed the usual pattern of semi-professional goalkeepers, chopping and changing teams from one club to another with Rossendale United, Matlock Town, Hucknall Town, Halifax Town and Guiseley. All the while he attended university at Sheffield Hallam. As most goalkeepers do Matt obviously fancied himself an outfield player and whilst at the Yorkshire University he decided to give centre back a go, and did so with aplomb catching the eye of reputed University football team Team Bath. He represented the England Universities team at the 2006 British Universities Games before switching universities to the University of Bath where he could continue playing but at a higher level whilst studying for a diploma in Fitness Excellence.

That season with Team Bath was highly impressive, being named Players Player of the Year and only narrowly losing out to Maidenhead United in promotion to the Conference South, an incredible achievement for a team of beer swilling, tax dodging and sexually promiscuous students; excuse the dramatic stereotyping.

His success was rewarded, snapped up by Exeter City in 2007 he was part of the team that saw them rise from the Conference back to League One before being signed by Charlton Athletic last summer. His meteoric rise to the brink of Premier League football is quite astonishing and one of those untold stories in football that makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.

From semi-pro goalkeeper, to student, to professional footballer, to Charlton Athletic’s vice-captain there is no question that at 30 years old Matt Taylor has truly had one of the more sensational football careers that I can remember.

Could a promotion to the Premier League cap it off?

images: © Ewan Munro, © Ewan-M

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