Success stories


QUADE Taylor has been handed a second chance at carving out a career in the professional game - and he intends to make the most of his latest opportunity.

The Streatham teenager, 17, was on Fulham’s books from the age of eight but was released six years later and drifted into Sunday League football where he played for Norbury-based Vale FC.

At the start of this season he signed for Dulwich Hamlet in Ryman Division One South along with friend Paul McCallum. It was the start of big things for the duo. Both played for Hamlet’s junior team as they became the only non- league club to reach the FA Youth Cup third round before eventually being knocked out by Newcastle.

Dulwich boss Gavin Rose brought them into his first team and both had scouts flocking to Champion Hill.

McCallum got his move first in January as he signed for West Ham United. Taylor was not far behind.

He also trained for a fortnight with the Hammers but ended up signing a two-and-a-half-year contract with Palace, who had also been interested in McCallum.

Hard work and persistence had paid off for Tooting-born Taylor, who is equally happy playing in central defence or midfield.

“I just got a letter from Fulham saying that I’d been released and there was no reason given,” he recalled.

“At the time I was upset.

“But I thought I would get another chance so I just kept working at it.

“I spent two weeks on trial with West Ham and I’ve got nothing negative to say about it, because it went alright, but when I came to Palace I just felt settled here and got on with the other boys straight away.

“Stoke came in late on after Palace and West Ham had been following me for months.

“They asked me to go on trial too but I wanted to stay closer to home.

“When I first found out that clubs were interested I was happy but then I felt nervous at the same time because I knew I had the opportunity to get started again and move on to a higher level.”

Some youngsters would get carried away with three major clubs in the mix for his services but Taylor said his experience at Fulham ensured his feet stayed firmly on the ground.

He explained: “I know from being let go that you can have all these people talking about you and that can all go away if you get big-headed. It wouldn’t have helped me. I just stayed patient and waited for something to happen.

“When I came in to talk to Dougie Freedman about signing he said to stay grounded and keep doing what I’ve done up to now, because it’s worked for me, and not to make any drastic changes.”

Taylor is quick to credit Dulwich manager Rose with kick-starting his career.

The Hamlet chief runs the successful ASPIRE football academy which has got many a footballer back into the full-time ranks and Taylor is just the latest to develop under his tutelage.

“A lot of players go there that have been let go by other clubs and he makes sure it isn’t the end of the world,” he explained.

“They give you a very hard pre-season to get you fit and from there you are learning something new every day.

“If you’re doing well for the youth team then he will put you through to the first team - it doesn’t matter about age or size. It’s all about if you’re good enough.

“The coaches at Dulwich helped me a lot. Even towards the end of my time there they were training me as a centre-back and working to make me better. A lot of this is down to them."

Taylor, a Manchester United fan, admits that Peckham-born Rio Ferdinand and Darren Fletcher are his idols and he believes his playing style is similar to the latter.

If he is anywhere near as good as the Scottish captain then he’ll soon be pushing for a place in the Palace first team.

“The biggest difference now is just training every day and my body is getting used to that,” said Taylor.

“If I can have a good pre-season and I’m doing well for the reserve squad then I might need to ask the manager the question about whether he’ll put me in and around the first-team and training."

Gary Issott, the head of Palace’s academy, is not setting any quick targets for the new arrival.

He said: “It’s a good step up for Quade but he’s going to need a bit of time to settle in. From what we saw when he trained with us he has got good technical ability and a decent attitude. He seems to be a late developer, which a lot of lads coming out of non-league are.

“Hopefully, with full-time coaching and training he can be a real prospect at 19. It’s a great time to come in because he’ll get a feel for it and then has got a summer break before coming back recharged.

“The current manager is keen to get more hungry young players - which is the culture the club had in the 1980s and 1990s.

“I genuinely believe there are some outstanding players in non league. You only have to look at Michael Kightly, Aaron McLean, Craig Mackail-Smith and Jermaine Beckford to realise there always has been and there always will be.

“The thing that is more difficult to do is work all of the leagues because there are just so many.

“We’ve set up a network where we use two or three managers from each league and they give us a tip-off if there is someone worth looking at. That helps in the search.”