Belfast Telegraph

There's more to Northern Ireland backroom role than coaching, explains Maik Taylor

By Steven Beacom in the Sunday Life

Northern Ireland great Maik Taylor has revealed that he is revelling in his role as goalkeeping coach for the country and says his experience as a player at international level has proved invaluable.

Taylor became a Windsor Park favourite, winning 88 caps between 1999 and 2011. Five years ago, manager Michael O’Neill asked the ex-Southampton, Fulham and Birmingham number one to join his staff and he has been doing a fantastic job with the goalkeepers ever since.

In a fascinating insight into his work, Taylor outlined why on occasions he acts like a counsellor as much as a coach.

“As well as the coaching, another major aspect of the job relates to when the manager makes his decision about who is going to play in goal. With my experience of being a number one and number two, I know exactly what state of mind all of the lads are in and I can help on that front,” said the 47-year-old.

“They are all professionals and want to be in the starting XI, so I try and deal with the boys psychologically and consider their mental state. You have to be a bit more thoughtful as to their state of mind.

“I don’t think you know about things like that unless you have been in that position yourself. It’s important to spend quality time with those boys equally as much as preparing whoever is going to start and getting his mind ready to play the game.

“I remember being dropped for the famous Spain game at Windsor Park that we won 3-2 in 2006. Roy (Carroll) came off injured after eight minutes and I had to go on, so I needed to be in the right frame of mind to take part in the game.”

Taylor was a key figure in persuading Leeds youngster Bailey Peacock-Farrell to throw his lot in with Northern Ireland rather than England.

“It’s been nice to have input into a young goalkeeper like Bailey and seeing his transformation,” said Taylor.

“From finding that he was eligible for us to doing our scouting work, watching him play and seeing his development has been great. He certainly has the tools to be a big asset to Northern Ireland in the future.

“It was also enjoyable working with Roy at the latter end of his international career. It was great to feed off him because we were together as goalkeepers so long in the Northern Ireland set-up. Trevor Carson and Michael McGovern have been brilliant as well and we have young Conor Hazard coming through too.

“I’m loving the role. When the opportunity came to work with Michael I couldn’t wait to be involved. It’s been a fantastic experience to work with him and hopefully that will continue.”

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