Jodie Taylor has had a globetrotting career to date and made the most of her talent since breaking through at Tranmere Rovers as a 15-year-old.
She is currently playing in the National Women’s Super League with Seattle Reign after joining the team from Melbourne City. It didn’t take her long to make an impact at the club as she scored on her debut against Washington Spirit.
In an exclusive interview with The Boot Room, the England international spoke about the importance of her good start:
“It was great to get my first goal for the club. It is a challenge joining a new club, settling in, getting to know teammates, staff, gelling with players on the pitch. So, to get on the scoresheet so early on in the first game was a great first step.”
The 31-year-old has played in a number of leagues across the world and those experiences have helped her develop into the clinical forward that she is today. However, the USA has provided her best times as a player.
Soon after breaking into the professional game, she took a scholarship with Oregon State University and that gave her a taste of the country. Since then, she has played for several teams in America.
“I love the US – both on and off the pitch. I love the competitiveness, the speed and the intensity of the game here. There is no easy game, every match is a test physically and mentally. It’s a challenge. Off the pitch I love the lifestyle and the people. The Pacific North West is a beautiful place and I feel fortunate to be at such a great club in a beautiful part of the world.”
It has long been thought that the NWSL is the best domestic league in women’s football and the comments from Taylor show why players opt to move there. The competitiveness of the league helps the development of the players, while the lifestyle of the USA is appealing to European players.
The England international was first introduced to the country as a as a teenager and has been keen to ply her trade there ever since.
Throughout her career, Taylor has spent time in the States, England, Sweden and Australia. Although each country will have provided different challenges, she will have learned equally from each. Consequently, she is keen to encourage other players in the women’s’ game to test themselves in new cultures.
“Playing in different countries, experiencing different philosophies and playing styles, experiencing new cultures, being challenged and being out of my comfort zone has really helped me develop both on and off the pitch and I would recommend more players to experience this.”
Her career path has been unconventional and it held her back for a period. Taylor proved her quality early on as she scored 29 times for Tranmere before taking up a scholarship offer in America.
It was clear then that she had the tools to play for the national team, but her first England cap didn’t arrive until 2014. This was 12 years after her professional debut.
Since then, she has played her part as the team have become beloved and the increasing support underlines the growth of the women’s game.
“We have come a long way over the past few years. It has taken a lot of hard work, sacrifice and commitment, from both players and staff to get to where we are now (2nd in the world). We have a lot of depth to our squad, which has been huge in tournaments.
“I hope that when people watch us play, they see heart, desire and pride and what it means to represent England. “
England Women’s captured the hearts of the nations as they made the semi-finals of the 2017 European Championships held in the Netherlands and, although they were eventually knocked out of the competition by the hosts, who went on to lift the trophy, they played some excellent football and emerged as a serious force in the global game.
The tournament also represented Taylor’s breakout as an international star, as she finished as the competition’s Golden Boot winner, with five goals. This included a hat-trick against Scotland during the group stages.
“I was extremely clinical with my finishing at the Euros. However, I put a lot of my success down to the team. My teammates provided brilliant service and created quality chances to allow me to put the ball in the back of the net. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have scored any of the goals that I did.”
The Seattle Reign forward comes is very humble about her performances during that competition, but it wouldn’t have come as a surprise to those that have followed her career closely. Taylor has scored a signifcant number of goals wherever she has played. Her finishing has only gotten better with added experience.
The European Championships have provided a platform for this England team and it is important that they continue pushing as a group. The World Cup is quickly approaching and Taylor spoke with confidence when discussing the chances of the team.
“I believe it will. In the last two major tournaments we have just fallen short of making it the whole way. We continue to keep improving and no doubt we will be contenders to win the World Cup next summer.”
A controversy involving Mark Sampson meant that the team’s management structure has undergone wholesale change throughout the last six months and that will likely impact England Women’s preparation for the World Cup.
Former Manchester United, Everton and England full-back Phil Neville was an unpopular appointment as the new Lionesses’ manager, but Taylor says first impressions have been positive.
“I was really impressed with how much he already knew about women’s football and the teams we faced at She Believes. His knowledge and experience is phenomenal. He’s been there and done it as a player. I have no doubt he will take us to another level.”
Despite his lack of experience in the women’s game, Neville has played at the highest level and he will have expertise to pass down to the current Lionesses’ squad.
Taylor has shown that she is keen to continue learning and her new international manager will help her hone her craft further. She has scored twice since he took charge and will hope to remain a key player heading into the tournamant in France next year.
The game in this country continues to gain exposure and the appointment of Neville is likely a tool to continue that trajectory.
Taylor may now be plying her trade in the USA, but only last season she was playing for Arsenal, with whom she experienced the Women’s Super League first hand.
Her record ended as better than a goal every other game, but she admits that injury affected her time with Arsenal.
“I was a little unfortunate with an Achilles injury during my time at Arsenal. It kept me out for much of my first season and once I was back healthy for the second season the focus was on the National Team and the build up to the European Championships.
“I learned the importance of patience! It is an injury that takes time to heal and I found it very frustrating and difficult to be on the sidelines and to not push getting back on the pitch. The club were supportive throughout the process, which I really appreciated.”
Although they have been dominant in the Women’s game in the past, Arsenal didn’t win the WSL during Taylor’s spell with the club.
There were some good times for the forward in North London, but her struggles with injury did limit her impact, especially during her debut season.
During her time back in England, there was an improvement in quality, but Taylor admits it remains behind the NWSL.
“The WSL has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Teams such as Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea are extremely professional and well supported by the men. The facilities are incredible and are attracting better and better players to the clubs.
“In terms of the standard of the league overall, I don’t think the WSL is as competitive as the NWSL, as a whole, and still needs to improve the teams outside of the top clubs.”
At the age of 31, Taylor has already achieved a lot in her career and has been playing at a high level for over ten years. However, there is a lot more for her to achieve.
The NWSL and World Cup will be her priority with team success being the main objective.
It would be remarkable if England did win the competition for the first time in their history. If they are to achieve that, the Seattle Reign star will have a part to play.