Jake Taylor: Leading Exeter, Reading memories and playing with Bale

Photograph and copyright owned by Exeter City Football Club.

You started your career at Reading. You were there as a young player and established yourself at the club following a few loan spells. Reading was a big part of your career so how do you look back on your time at the club now?

It was a very important part of my career. It’s very easy to say that you were a part of a club without really playing for the first team so for me it was vital to work hard and succeed to the best of my ability.

Going on loan helped me develop as a player because as a young player, you need to learn quickly what it’s like playing first team football and needing to compete for three points in meaningful games.

It can be tricky to settle in when you go on loan. I settled when I arrived at Exeter on loan because it was a sustained loan spell rather than a very short term loan. I learned so much from the different environments that come with each club.

You achieved many a young players dream by representing Wales at first team level. How proud are you of that experience?

It’s my proudest moment that no one can ever take away from me. To be involved in the Wales squad and to play for my national team is my fondest achievement so far.

“Ashley Williams & Gareth Bale” by joncandy is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

I trained and played alongside Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey and it was a whirlwind as I had only broken into the Reading first team on a consistent basis. Gareth was the most expensive player in the world at the time and I learned so much from training alongside him and the rest of the team.

You experienced Scottish football with Motherwell. How do you reflect on your time at Motherwell?

“Fir Park from Chatelherault” by stewartcutler is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

It was the toughest time of my career in all honesty. I went there with a manager who was under a bit of pressure then the manager changed during my time there which led to me being out of favour.

It’s part and parcel of football but it was very difficult being so far away from home and not playing at all.

Motherwell as a club was very well run and the set up was good. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out for me but I don’t regret going there.

You join Exeter permanently following your time at Reading. What was it like working with Paul Tisdale in your first few years at the club?

I’ll always be grateful for the experiences that Paul gave me when I was on loan. He dealt with me brilliantly during our time working together. He built exciting squads and it was unbelievable that we didn’t achieve promotion in those years.

What is Matt Taylor like to work with because Exeter are still a side that are highly regarded?

It was difficult for him coming in straight away as Paul was here for so long but he’s been great to work with. He’s made good signings and put his faith in youth which is something that the club is renowned for.

We’ve got close to promotion under Matt and just missing out in the play off final last year was heartbreaking but we are heading in the right direction and it’s a great club to be at.

As a senior player and club captain, how do you help the younger players at the club?

“Ivor Doble Stand, St James Park, Exeter City FC” bysgwarnog2010 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

It’s vital that I help them be the best that they can be and that comes from the staff as well as myself and the senior players that we have.

I am always here to give any player advice and when you look at the younger players we’ve sold in recent years they’ve went on to achieve great things. Ollie Watkins is a great example of that.

You’ve played most of your club football with Exeter now. What does the club mean to you after all of these years?

It means a lot to me because the club gave me a chance and an opportunity as a youngster on loan from Reading and then allowed me to develop into a captain and a leader when I joined permanently.

It’s a family club and the fans love the club. We have missed them being with us and I cannot wait until they are back because I owe a lot to them and to the club as a whole.

Last but not least, who are the best players you’ve played with and who have your toughest opponents been over the years?

The easy answer is Gareth Bale. He’s a phenomenal talent as his career shows.

At club level, Ollie Watkins was superb and we knew he’d go on to play at the top level.

In regards to opponents I’d say Matt Doherty who is at Spurs now as he was very mobile and a player who would do all that he could to nullify you as a winger trying to go forward and create attacks.

Published by Callum McFadden

Football CFB founder. Freelance football writer & broadcaster of over 350 interviews with professional players and managers across all levels of football.

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