Matt Taylor has revealed he turned down the chance to join a club in the Sky Bet Championship to sign for the Cobblers.
The 34-year-old was a key man in the Burnley midfield as they secured promotion to the Premier League last season, and after leaving Turf Moor he wasn’t short of offers to carry on plying his trade in the second tier of English football.
But the former Portsmouth, West Ham United and Bolton Wanderers and man instead rocked up at Sixfields, and after a brief spell training with the Cobblers he opted to be part of Rob Page’s quiet revolution.
A key reason for Taylor choosing the Cobblers was the close proximity of the club to his family home in Oxfordshire, with the player admitting that, after a career spanning almost 20 years, it was time to put those closest to him first.
“I’m happy and I’m enjoying my football,” said Taylor, who scored the Cobblers’ opening goal in their 2-0 Sky Bet League One win over Walsall at Sixfields on Saturday.
“I think the older you get, the realism that it’s going to end sooner rather than later dawns on you, so for me personally I’m enjoying playing as much football as I can.
“I’m at a different stage of my life.
“My family are vitally important to me and I’m an hour from home, my kids are my main priority and football is a welcome distraction.
“I’m really enjoying playing my football at the moment, not that I didn’t in the last couple of seasons.
“But this feels right and this feels a good fit for me, so I’m happy.”
After leaving his first club, Luton Town, in 2002, Taylor has spent his career in the top two divisions of English football, with a lot of it in the Premier League.
His signing for the Cobblers certainly raised eyebrows in the football world, with many believing it to be a real coup for Northampton, and that has proved to be the case as he has turned in some excellent displays.
But the player himself says it is a perfect move for him, and that he has been impressed with the ambition of the club, on and off the pitch.
“I could have signed for a Championship club but it wasn’t right for me,” said Taylor, who turns 35 in November. “I wanted to play nearer home and this felt right.
“It’s a club that’s going in the right direction and we’ve got a very ambitious chairman and a very ambitious manager.
“Things off the pitch have stabilised a lot in the last 12 months and you can see that on the pitch, but you can also see it in the infrastructure of the football club in the training facilities and in the way the football club is run. I’m very excited and I’m enjoying myself.”
Taylor is certainly playing with a smile on his face, and he was beaming again at the weekend as he scored his second goal in as many games to help steer the Cobblers to their second league win in the space of a week, the 2-0 victory over Walsall coming hot on the heels of the 3-2 win over Milton Keynes Dons in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Taylor scored a stunning free-kick in the win over MK, but against the Saddlers it was a rare header.
“I’ve just taken a chance that it could come in and I tried to get something on it because the direction was on the ball and it’s probably one of the best headers I’ve scored in my career,” said Taylor.
“It’s another three points and ultimately that’s always the most important thing.
“We’re still a team in transition because there are quite a few new players blending into a relatively new team.
“What you’re seeing is that there is a lot of hard work which goes on behind the scenes and we’re being more ruthless in front of goal.
“Defensively we haven’t really had any problems, it’s maybe about not being ruthless enough because we’re creating enough and what we’ve done in the last two games is take those chances.”
The two Sixfields victories in the space of a week have seen the Cobblers rise up the league one table and on to the fringes of the promotion places.
Town are eighth, level on points with sixth-placed Peterborough United, two points behind second-placed Scunthorpe United and four off leaders Bolton Wanderers.
The win over the Saddlers also saw the Cobblers extend their unbeaten league run to 31 games, so is a push for promotion a possibility this season?
“I don’t see any reason why not,” said Taylor.
“I haven’t seen anything in this league that we should be worried about whatsoever.
“We’re under no illusions because we’ve only won two games but we are a team in transition and we’re getting better and long may that continue.
“Internally we know we’re a good team.
“There are things we know we can improve but we’re doing well this season and keeping hold of that unbeaten run always helps.”