Under-21 boss Matty Jones hails determination of Joe Taylor to rise to Premier League
Wales Under-21 coach Matty Jones has hailed Luton hero Joe Taylor’s “fight and determination” to rise from the ninth tier of English football to the Premier League.
Taylor was sent out on loan by King’s Lynn to Eastern Counties League Premier Division club Wroxham at the start of the 2021-22 season.
It proved plain sailing as Taylor scored 21 goals in 13 games for the ninth-tier Yachtsmen, sparking Peterborough’s interest and a move to the English Football League in November 2021.
Taylor made just a dozen league appearances for Posh before signing for Luton in January and his season ended in the most dramatic fashion.
The 20-year-old forward, on as a substitute, converted a penalty in the Hatters’ Wembley shoot-out victory over Coventry that secured Premier League football next season.
“To see Joe come on at Wembley was special,” said Jones, who has included Taylor in the squad for Wales’ opening 2025 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifier in Denmark on Tuesday.
“I spoke to him before the game and he didn’t expect to be on the bench. Just to be part of it and experience the day was his main goal.
“One thing he’s got is fight and determination, not to prove people wrong but to prove to himself that he’s good enough.
“It could have gone either way for him at Peterborough, in terms of not getting a huge amount of game time and dropping into the 21s.
“He showed frustration at times for that, but then his move to Luton came out of the blue.”
Taylor made only one start and four substitute appearances before making the Hatters’ bench at Wembley.
Just moments before his sweetly-struck penalty in the shoot-out, Taylor thought he had scored an extra-time winner only for his effort to be ruled out by VAR for a handball in the build-up.
“To come off the bench and score the winner would have been a dream come true,” Jones said.
“But we couldn’t be happier to see Joe score a penalty which was pivotal to Luton’s success.
“Those experiences for lads are gold dust. The pressure he was under with that penalty will only bode well for us.
“He will get similar scenarios for his country, how to manage his emotions under extreme pressure.”
King’s Lynn-born Taylor, who qualifies for the Dragons through his Welsh grandmother, made his U21 debut in September.
Jones said: “Joe’s had a great journey – it’s such a positive story – and he’s come into camp now with both performance and physical momentum.”
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