17-year-old Nottingham Forest U23 forward Dale Taylor told Sky Sports he was aiming high after his first call-up in Northern Ireland and revealed that fellow Tigers Bay native Carl Frampton was a big inspiration .
As a teenage striker with no senior appearance in professional football, Dale Taylor could be forgiven for taking a slow step in international football.
Having been influenced by a family friend and former two-weight boxing world champion Carl Frampton, this is not an option!
“I’m coming for David Healy, I’m coming for his record,” Taylor said with a laugh of Northern Ireland’s all-time top scorer.
“I’ve told him that before! David was a huge influence on me. He called me up to wish me all the best and told me to keep a cool head, work hard and do everything right.”
Taylor was just 15 when he scored for Irish Premiership champions Linfield against Cliftonville under former leaders Fulham, Leeds and Preston.
While this is an astonishing goal of individual quality, Healy found himself having to categorically state to unconvinced scouts that Taylor would be a future forward from Northern Ireland.
The teenager’s earliest memories of watching the international team include attending matches with another great Northern Ireland sportsman in Frampton, who visited the team hotel this week to wish him luck.
Frampton lived five minutes from the local pitch in the difficult Tigers Bay area, north of Belfast, where a young Taylor often competed in crossbar challenges with his friends.
“He is close to my mother and my stepfather and knew it a week before the announcement, but he kept it a secret. He called when he came out and is very proud of me,” he said. he declares.
“I’ve been to all of his fights and his career speaks for itself, so it’s amazing to have his support.
“The call signifies the world. Honestly it’s a dream come true, everything I dreamed of as a young boy. I told my mom and she started to cry.”
Taylor, with a sympathetic outgoing personality and full of youthful exuberance, credits his family for developing his love of football, having first taken him to the local Loughside Boys club as a toddler.
It is clear that the youngster appreciates those who guide him, including Nottingham Forest academy director Gary Brazil, as well as the role Linfield played as Healy nurtured and supported his time in English football.
Another Healy protege, Shayne Lavery, had impressed for Blackpool before a hamstring injury interrupted his streak of seven goals in 13 games for the Championship club. Taylor hopes to make his breakthrough in this division.
“Shayne is amazing. I admire him and it gives me the confidence that I can follow. I want to play for my country, make my debut for Forest and one day play in the Premier League.
“In Forest I am settling in extremely well. I live with a little boy called Jamie McDonnell [Northern Ireland U19 midfielder] and Aaron Donnelly [Northern Ireland U21 defender]. They helped me avoid homesickness. “
He wasted no time in training either and manager Ian Baraclough was impressed with his fearless performance in the opening session.
Like Healy, Baraclough praised Taylor’s character, saying he won’t be the kind of player to be confused by the possibility of facing European champion Lithuania or Italy, if there is. is invited.
The teenager also finds himself training with players he had previously encouraged in the rowdy stands at Windsor Park.
“It’s all about experience this week. I’m only 17 but I’m going to work hard, do my best and hope to be on the pitch,” he added.
“As a forward I’ve always admired Josh Magennis. The way he scores goals and holds the ball is great.”
It was not all easy and success was mixed in the hotel’s games room.
“I beat Conor Bradley at table tennis but Ethan [Galbraith] hit me the other day and I haven’t played since, ”Taylor said.
This is the only hint of a crisis of confidence, but we are soon back on track when asked to describe to fans in Northern Ireland what kind of player they have.
“A player who scores goals,” he replies without hesitation.