Steven Taylor's touching tribute to former mentor Gary Speed

Seven years on from his passing, the legacy of legendary Welsh footballer Gary Speed continues to resonate around the world.

And this Hyundai A-League season, the spirit of Speed will be shining through Wellington Phoenix defender and former Newcastle United teammate Steven Taylor.

Taylor, 32, remembers the midfielder taking him under his wing as a 16-year-old rising through the Newcastle academy and into Sir Bobby Robson’s first team in 2003.

"I wanted to mould myself around these kinds of characters and how they were on and off the pitch,” he told

“Gary did all things right, his presence around the pitch… on the pitch all you’d hear was 'Speedo'.

"The respect he’s got in the game shows on the pitch as well.

“Even the days where things weren’t going well for us in the games, he’d never stop fighting or grafting.

“He’s a real leader on the pitch and off the pitch, always getting the guys together.

“You could just hear his voice in the changing pitch and in the showers, just loud everywhere and that’s how it was when I was coming through.

“And to see that and to try and be something like that - it was incredible thing for a young kid to experience.”

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Speed and Shearer

Taylor made his Newcastle United debut in a 3-0 win at Mallorca back in March 2004.

That match saw Speed and legendary striker Alan Shearer at the peak of their awe-inspiring powers.

“It was incredible to just have him there,” he said.

“When you have those kind of figure heads on the pitch, when you have that core on the pitch of the Speed's and Shearer's of the world, that gives you the confidence and belief that you’re going to win the game.

“You’ve got a character and a leader and it make the manager’s job so much easier because you’d come in at half time and he’d just sort things out.

“I very rarely see that in modern day football now, a lot of people are too nice to each other.

“On the pitch back in the day when you see your Gary Speed's give Alan Shearer a good bollocking for, at times for not holding the ball up, you see that trend with proper winners.”

Speed was the first player to reach 500 Premier League appearances, a milestone achieved with spells at Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle and Bolton.

The Mancot-born midfielder is also the third most capped Welsh footballer of all time, and the man responsible for ushering the national team into a bright new generation after years of disappointment.

“He changed the whole philosophy, whole mentality of the Welsh squad and created something special there,” Taylor continued.

“That just shows you what he brings to the table, he brings the best out of them because he knows what it takes to be the best and you just can’t buy that sort of character especially in this modern-day football.

“In the Premier League I look at it and I would say there is not one person there like Gary Speed.”