Taylor: No ball is lost, no battle is lost

Jodie Taylor knows what it is like to watch things unfold from a distance. She has no time to waste and, more importantly, no desire to revert to being a helpless spectator. Perhaps that is why, instead of waiting around for the ball, the England attacker is increasingly going in search of it.

Against the hosts in the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015™ quarter-finals, whenever the action crossed the halfway line into opposition territory, Taylor was never far away. That explains why she was in the perfect position to capitalise on Lauren Sesselmann's slip, seize possession and score the opening goal, three minutes before Lucy Bronze notched the second in a 2-1 triumph that took the English ladies into the semi-finals for the first time.

"That was my mentality and the team's as a whole: no ball is lost, no battle is lost," Taylor told FIFA.com. "You have to always go in there and scrap, to make sure the opposition never have it easy on the ball. We'd resolved to run, run and keep running, put them under pressure and force them into mistakes. And that paid off."

If anyone understands the value of perseverance, it is Taylor. The 29-year-old has had to show it in spades to get this far, having been serially overlooked at international level, to the extent that this is her first World Cup and she only earned her maiden cap last year. This, despite making her breakthrough for Tranmere Rovers aged 16 and consistently pressing her claim thereafter.

Taylor could justifiably view her success under current Lionesses manager Mark Sampson as proving a point to the likes of former boss Hope Powell, whom she once emailed to no avail. But such thoughts could not be further from her mind.

"Things are what they are and honestly I have no hard feelings," the Portland Thorns player, who is the only member of the England squad based overseas," explained. "I hold no grudges against anyone. The staff were entitled to select the players they wanted, and playing abroad certainly didn't help my cause," added the forward, who has enjoyed stints in Canada, the USA, Sweden and Australia at club level.

Not even returning to England with Birmingham City was enough for Taylor to win a place in the set-up for the UEFA Women's EURO 2013 in Sweden. Ironically, she found herself loaned out to Kopparbergs/Goteborg and ended up watching from the stands while her compatriots and club team-mates represented their respective countries. This was a new low, in a sense, but it also prompted a change of outlook.

Taylor said: "I never stopped believing, but that was definitely the toughest moment. It made me realise that there was no point beating myself up over things which I had no control over."

Good things come to those who wait When Sampson finally handed a then 28-year-old Taylor her chance in 2014, the battle-weary star took her first steps in international football with just as much enthusiasm as any fresh-faced youngster.

"Making my debut at that age, with the experience I have, was obviously a bonus", said the seasoned campaigner, who has even had a spell as an assistant coach in the USA. "I never gave up and I'm happy to have come back into the picture at the right time and to be able to show that I've learned something from all the trials and tribulations I've been through."

The latest such test came just eight weeks before the big event in Canada kicked off, in the shape of a knee injury that required Taylor to go under the knife. "I was in rehabilitation for seven or eight hours a day, lying there not knowing whether I would recover," she recalled, her voice full of emotion. "And yet the coach put me in the squad, without even knowing if I would be fit enough to play in the tournament."

The rest is history. Thanks to a combination of Sampson's faith, the efforts of the medical staff and Taylor's iron will, she is back on her feet and looking to keep seizing the moment against reigning champions Japan in the World Cup semi-finals.

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