Steven Taylor has described the military-style boot camp the Wellington Phoenix squad were put through in the build-up for the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Season.
The former EPL star said the camp – where they went 24 hours without food or sleep – was the hardest thing he’s ever done in his career.
SIGNING NEWS: Phoenix add two more for 2018/19
IMPORTANT INFO: How to watch the Hyundai A-League Round 1
Elsewhere, Oriol Riera turned his back on a lucrative deal to remain with the Wanderers, while an injured Jets star has a key role for the club’s opening home match.
It’s all in this week’s Hyundai A-League Paper Talk!
Taylor: It was the hardest thing I’ve done
After 15 years as a professional football, most of which came in the rough-and-tumble of the Premier League, you would think Steven Taylor has seen it all.
But the new Phoenix recruit says the club’s pre-season army-style boot camp was the toughest mental test of his career.
Wellington boss Mark Rudan set-up the camp, which involved a series of mental examinations which included going a day without food or sleep.
"They absolutely obliterated us," Taylor told https://www.stuff.co.nz.
"I think the manager is trying to break me, but I told him you ain't gonna break me no matter what you do, so you can keep trying.
“I loved how he tried though. And no-one crumbled.”
Taylor described how the players turned up at the club’s training base as normal before surrendering their phones and being taken away by soldiers.
“They took us on a bus, but nothing was said, we didn't know what was going on. No coach or manager on the bus,” he said.
"We ended up going out to the army base and next thing you know we're getting shouted at. Doing different tasks, working in groups. It was very, very difficult. It was like Marines training.
"From early morning, all day and all through the night. There was no sleep, no food. I was surprised how the lads could keep up doing it."
No Spanish return for Riera
A desire to win the title with Western Sydney Wanderers was behind Oriol Riera’s decision to turn down a move back to Spain to remain in the Hyundai A-League.
A report in the Sydney Morning Herald revealed how Riera was presented with a big-money three-year deal with a Spanish second division club.
While it would have been easy to return to his homeland, the 32-year-old decided to stay in Australia with his family settled and unfinished business with the Wanderers.
"The only condition that I put was that I want to win," Riera said in the Herald story.
"I want to be a winner, I want you to make this team top, this squad ready to fight for a title.
"This is why I am here. I want to have success. I'm here to win, not for wasting time. I had offers – in Spain, in Europe – but I am here.
"We had this agreement. We will see."
Riera was a shining light for the Wanderers last season, scoring 15 goals in 25 appearances.
Big rap for injured Jets star
While he’d much prefer to be helping his club on the pitch, injured Newcastle Jets attacker Joey Champness will still be entertaining the fans for the club’s first home game next month.
Champness, who is also an aspiring rapper, is set to perform in the McDonald Jones Stadium precinct ahead of the club’s Grand Final rematch against Melbourne Victory on November 3.