US Virgin Islands defender Macdonald Taylor will never forget the 18th of February 2004, the day he wrote his name into football history. At the age of 46, Taylor became the oldest player ever to take the field in a FIFA World Cup qualifier, surpassing no less a figure than Cameroon legend Roger Milla. The new record holder was overjoyed on learning of his achievement: "That's fantastic, I'm really extremely proud," he told FIFAworldcup.com.
Taylor is one of the fittest 46 year-olds around. "I train every day and stay in peak condition via track and field," the well-built defender remarked. "I usually run five miles before I start training." The 46 year-old, a valve technician by trade, listed healthy eating, plenty of sport and no alcohol as the secret of his success in a career that featured competitive athletics as well as football.
The proud father's first attempt at FIFA World Cup qualification came four years ago in the US Virgin Islands' contest with St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but Taylor finished up on the wrong end of a 14-1 aggregate defeat. Plenty has changed since then though, and Taylor insists the team has made substantial progress: "In the past it was just kick-and-rush, but the new coach has made us learn tactics, and introduced a man-marking approach."
"I started playing when I was five"
Taylor was born in 1957 in Trinidad and Tobago and moved to the US Virgin Islands in 1974. He has appeared for a number of clubs and currently turns out for Chelsea United. "I've been playing football since I was a kid," he relates. "My dad started taking me to football matches when I was five and I used to mess around with the ball by the touch line."
Taylor's passion for football has remained constant, but his favoured position has changed over the years. "I started as a striker, but as I got older I dropped further and further back into defence, where my experience comes in handy." He was duly proud of being named USVI Defender of the Year last year.
Taylor is now on the verge of hanging up his boots though, especially as his side look destined for another early FIFA World Cup qualifying exit following a 4-0 home defeat against St. Kitts and Nevis. "The problem was we played well for 30 minutes but didn't score," Taylor summarises.
New priority: bringing on the kids
The player says the return on 31 March will mark the end of his international career. "This is the last season I'll be playing football at this level," the US Virgin Islands' most capped international insists. However, he has no intention of quitting the game for good: "I'm going to train up my children. My daughter Mackish is the youngest player in our U-19 women's side -- she's very good for a 13 year-old," the proud dad beams. His 11 year-old son is also a budding starlet.
Taylor is hoping for a successful end to his international career, although he knows it will be no easy task in St Kitts. "I just hope we can score. I desperately want us to win this match. I don't want to finish my career as a loser."