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Wellington Phoenix skipper Steven Taylor has left the club with immediate effect.
Wellington Phoenix have been rocked by another departure, this time losing their inspirational captain Steven Taylor with two years left on his contract.
The former Newcastle United defender played 49 games for the Phoenix across two seasons in the A-League, scoring two goals and quickly becoming a fan favourite for his colourful personality and strong defensive presence on the field.
Taylor was handed the captain’s armband when long-serving skipper Andrew Durante departed at the end of the 2018-19 campaign, and the charismatic Englishman said it was his intention to play out the final two years of his professional career in New Zealand after signing a deal in January.
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The 34-year-old’s sudden exit was announced via a press release on Monday, which did not disclose the reasons for Taylor’s exit.
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However, it is no doubt influenced by the financial impact of Covid-19. The A-League clubs are currently locked in negotiations with the PFA regarding a new Collective Bargaining Agreement which could see player salaries slashed by as much as 30 per cent in the wake of a reduced broadcast deal.
“It is with a heavy heart that I am saying goodbye to the Nix,” Taylor said.
“I want to say a huge thank you to the club owners, the board and the many great staff that I have worked with, and I want to especially thank [coach] Ufuk [Talay] for his faith in me and making me captain of this great club.
“To my team-mates, I will miss playing together but I know I have made life-long friends.
“Finally, to the supporters, you are truly one of a kind, amazing; I hope that you will be back in Sky Stadium soon backing the team so loud and proud.”
Taylor is the fourth player to exit the Phoenix since the 2019-20 season concluded, following Liberato Cacace, Callum McCowatt and Gary Hooper out the door. But given his stature at the club, this one will hurt the most.
“We thank Steven for his incredible contribution to this club these past two seasons; for his hard work on the field, his mentoring of the younger players and the positive way he engaged with the fans – no doubt he’s a classy player and we wish him all the best,” Talay said.
“Steven was the right choice for us as captain, he’s an experienced leader who not only says the right things but leads by example too.
“He put his imprint on the team this past season and helped to create a positive, winning culture for the players – it’ll now be up to our next captain to continue that great work and to build on the third-place finish we achieved last season.”