You retired from professional football in 2007. How are you enjoying retirement and how is life for you these days?
Retirement is a little bit different due to the COVID situation right now and when I retired I did that basically because I could not go on any more. I managed to finish my career at Northampton Town where each club that I have been at I have been able to achieve something. At the end of my career I achieved promotion with Northampton Town and I ended on a high.
The funny thing was I had a great affiliation with Aston Villa as you know and I am still Club Ambassador and my last game for Northampton Town a load of Aston Villa fans turned up to watch and give me a send off which I thought was fantastic. I was substituted with ten minutes of the game remaining and the Aston Villa fans singing my name all went home when I came off the pitch which was amazing. I have always had a good relationship with Aston Villa fans and that was nice to see at the end of my career.
You lead my on to my next question in Aston Villa and your affiliation with the club. You played nice seasons there. How do you look back on your time at Aston Villa and do you have any highlights or special memories?
It was an amazing time. The biggest reason was me being an Aston Villa fan growing up as a kid and I would watch the team from the Holte End at Villa Park and it was always a dream to play for the club and to achieve that dream and achieve what I did at the club was special. I am still one of the players that was in the team when we last won a major trophy. To reach cup finals and play in Europe was amazing.
My biggest achievement would be winning the League Cup with Aston Villa. All the way through my time at the club the little quirky things like scoring on my home debut against Chelsea in front of the Holte End where I used to stand as a boy and at the time a lot of people would have been asking the question who is Ian Taylor and I was Brian Little’s first signing when he came to the club and he tried to sign me before I went to Sheffield Wednesday which was only six months earlier.
I did not have a great time at Sheffield Wednesday and the opportunity came where I could go to Aston Villa in a swap deal with Guy Whittingham and I took the chance with both hands and to have the opportunity to go and sign for the team that I supported as a kid was a no brainer really and I was just over the moon when it happened and then to score on my home debut in a 3-0 win in front of my family and friends was just amazing.
People ask me the question: what was the most important goal you ever scored? and I always say my debut goal for the club and not the one I scored in the League Cup Final against Leeds United in 1996.
You played two seasons for Derby County. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any special memories or highlights?
I had a great two years at Derby County having left Aston Villa when I came to the end of my contract. I was starting to pick up little niggling injuries at the end of my time with Aston Villa who were then managed by Graham Taylor and it was one of those situations where when I was fit I played but I kept getting strains and niggles which stopped me from playing so the club did not renew my contract.
I knew I was leaving at the end of my contract and our last game of the season was away to Leeds United and the night before the league game I sat down with Doug Ellis who was the owner at the time. He told me that he was not going to renew my contract and I was a bit down and I had to go a play the game at Elland Road which was packed to the rafters in the away end and we lost the game and I went over to the fans in the away end and I was pretty much in tears because I knew I was leaving and a lot of the fans could see that it was my final game without actually knowing it as a fact.
It was a bit disappointing not being able to say my goodbyes the weekend before at home in front of a packed crowd to Sunderland AFC if I had been told which would have been a better send off. I left and went to Derby County and I took it upon myself to do extra training outside of the club and work on my fitness.
I was top scorer in my first season at the club and at the time Derby County were rebuilding after the likes of Fabrizio Ravanelli, Stefano Eranio and Georghe Kinkladze had left the club so it was a new team and I went there to help stabilize the club and they also made my captain and we had a tough but good season. The fans took to me and funnily enough the first friendly that I played was against Aston Villa pre season and I ended up scoring the winning goal which was weird because I had both sets of fans singing my name that evening which was fantastic and a nice memory to have. During my two good seasons at Derby County we had just missed out on the play-offs in my second season which was disappointing.
You accrued a lot of experience during your professional career. When you look back could you say who were among the best players you played alongside?
Wow!. For sure Dwight Yorke was one of the best strikers I played with. I played with the likes of Peter Schmeichel, David Ginola, Paul Merson, Gareth Southgate, George Boateng, Paul McGrath an Aston Villa legend and even Mark Bosnich in goal. The players I mentioned would be the most prominent that I can remember but to be honest the best player that I played with was Dwight Yorke.
I can imagine in your position as a midfielder that you have played against some difficult opponents, When you look could you say which opponents stood out for you in terms of talent and ability?
I was tipped for an England cap at one stage but the caliber of midfielders that I was up against was unbelievable because there were the likes of Paul Scholes, Steven Gerrard, David Beckham.
I also played against Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira and Frank Lampard and there were some good midfielders at that time and funnily enough I became good mates with a lot of them just out of respect really and I would speak to the likes of Patrick Vieira on holiday and we became good mates after that which was good fun when we were playing against each other.
A lot of these guys were such great guys off the pitch and we all had a mutual respect but on the pitch we were winners and we would fight and scrap each other. Paul Scholes was one of the best and Patrick Vieira too and I would say that all those players were good but for different reasons.
Finally Ian. When you look back on your career could you say which managers and coaches meant a lot to you and played a key role in your development as a professional footballer?
Yes, One manager who is not the biggest manager in the world but he was my first league manager John Rudge at Port Vale. A lot of people talk about Jamie Vardy’s journey and how he came through Non League and I did exactly the same all those years ago.
Port Vale brought me for £15,000 from Moor Green (Which is now Sollihull Moors) and it is one of those where I could have gone to Notts County who were a top team in Division One at the time but I chose to go to Port Vale because I thought I would get in the team straight away because I did not want to be in the reserves or on the bench. So I picked a team that was a lot lower down so that I could play straight away and it was John Rudge who showed that faith in me to put me in the team straight away and it was the best thing that I ever did and in two seasons in league football I scored 35 goals from midfield which was amazing.
I had only been in the professional game for two years and then I was playing in the Premier League so it was a bit of a meteoric rise but it was the best thing that I ever did. I always hold John Rudge in high esteem because he took a chance on me.
I would also like to mention Brian Little who was my first manager at Aston Villa and I was still in his thoughts when he got the Aston Villa job and he was the manager when we won the League Cup in 1996 and I owe him a lot too for taking me to Aston Villa or I would not be where I am today.