Max Taylor's story is truly remarkable.
Not only did the Manchester United defender show the mental strength and resilience to come through what he described as 'toxic' chemotherapy after being diagnosed with cancer, he then used this to spur him on in the relentless pursuit of achieving his goals.
A Manchester United contract extension is the latest stunning achievement for this talented 20-year-old.
The youngster was diagnosed with cancer in October 2018, and it was initially thought to be testicular cancer. It was later confirmed that he had cancer in his testicle, but it had also spread to his abdomen and to his lungs.
Chemotherapy was required and, thankfully, Taylor responded well to the treatment.
This all came as such a shock to a player who was beginning to establish himself as one of the brightest young talents within Manchester United's youth setup. Joining the club back in 2014 after a successful trial, Taylor worked his way up through the ranks and was promoted to the Under-23 squad ahead of the 2018/19 season.
This, however, was when he was diagnosed. But just 12 months after beginning treatment, the defender was named in the senior squad for the very first time as United travelled to take on Astana in the Europa League.
February 2019: Diagnosed with cancer and undergoes successful chemotherapy— utdreport (@utdreport) November 26, 2019
November 2019: Named in Manchester United's travelling squad to face Astana
Max Taylor is an inspiration ? pic.twitter.com/jL08Wv9kgZ
While Taylor didn't make it onto the field that game, it was a simply remarkable achievement. In the build-up to that clash, Taylor was keen to stress that he wouldn't let cancer define him. He told MUTV: "I knew it would still be there but I wanted to push on to the next challenge. I don’t want it to define me.
"I’d rather it be a part of me and then whether it’s my football or how I am as a person, all combines to define me. I don’t want it to be a case of it’s the cancer that defines me.
“Next is I’m planning to get regular football, whether it be in the Under-23s or on loan or whatever. My ultimate goal is to play for the first team here.”
It was his mental strength and love for the game that has kept driving Taylor on and as he said himself, while his ultimate goal is to make it at Manchester United in the long run, he was keen to get back to playing regular first-team football - either in the youth teams or away from the club.
On his 20th birthday, Max Taylor has joined NPL Stalybridge Celtic on loan for rest of season. Eligible for tomorrow's game v Atherton Collieries. Culture shock from @ManUtd but hopefully next step to a career in the game.— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) January 10, 2020
And this is exactly what he did as it was arranged for him to join Northern Premier League outfit Stalybridge Celtic on loan during the January transfer window. The defender went on to get his first taste of senior football, featuring nine times before play was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
His performances haven't gone unnoticed, with his parent club now taking to their official website to confirm that Taylor had signed a one-year extension to his current deal.
This is nothing less than he deserves.
Fearless, persistent, determined and hugely talented, Taylor has acted upon his remarks in November. Declaring that he wouldn't let cancer define him, Taylor has proven exactly that. Having already shown an unthinkable amount of courage and perseverance to get back playing football for none other than Manchester United so soon after overcoming cancer, his loan away from the club was the latest reminder of his hunger and desire to reach his goals.
Getting a taste of senior football, Taylor has used his time away from the club to further his development with the hope of making the grade at his parent club. For a player in his position, it would have been easier - and most certainly understandable - to stay at United and try to wait for an opportunity to come. But instead, Taylor embraced the chance to improve his game and showcase his talents elsewhere, and this is exactly what he's done.
As Taylor himself said, he can't hide from the fact that having cancer is part of his history, but he wants to be remembered and appreciated for who he is as a person - both within the footballing world and in general day-to-day life.
Taylor's contract extension hasn't come about due to his past, it has been handed to him because of the hard work that he has put in to prove to the club that he is worthy of being there. A true inspiration to us all.
Source : 90min