Charlton Athletic striker Lyle Taylor on going pink to raise money for cancer charity

EXCLUSIVE
BY RICHARD CAWLEY

richard@slpmedia.co.uk

Lyle Taylor is already a marked man in League One – so dying his hair pink and wearing matching coloured boots will hardly allow him to pass unnoticed.

But it is all for a very good cause.

Three of the Charlton striker’s grandparents have suffered with bowel and prostate cancer. And his aunt’s mum and nan’s best friend both passed away following a fight against breast cancer.

Taylor is hoping his transformation in October – which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – will help raise funds for charity.

“My previous hair colours were simply out of choice – nothing else,” said Taylor, who joined the Addicks on a free transfer from AFC Wimbledon in the summer.

“I’ve been blond, brown and red. At the moment it is grey – I’m not sure if that is stress or not!

“It means I’m just ready to get the pink when it needs to go pink – September 30. Sky Sports are coming down to film it.”

Taylor played and scored twice against Charlton in the FA Cup last season after losing a relative. He was visibly distraught during the match and afterwards when interviewed.

“I was determined to play,” he said. “It was the only way to not sit there and think about it. The manager [Neal Ardley] knew about it but none of my team-mates did until after the game.

“The emotion didn’t really hit until I went to my family at the end of the game and gave my dad a hug, then it comes to the surface.

“We’ve got a family friend who seems to be losing her battle. It’s really hard because it affects so many people, and it tends to be the good ones who are healthy and active.

“I’m in a position where I can use the influence and reputation I’ve got to do something good and give something back.

“I’m hoping this helps and also makes people realise they can get involved and do their own charity stuff.

“People will be asking why I have got pink hair and pink boots – it hopefully becomes a talking point. That means I’ve done something right.

“I’ve set up a fundraising page on the Cancer Research UK website. I think I’ve got three or four pink pairs and however many I wear I will auction off. It’s about doing as much as I can to raise as much money and awareness.”

Taylor was the first signing made by Charlton caretaker boss Lee Bowyer.

He has bagged three goals in six games – including one in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Southend United. The Shrimpers were one of the clubs in the mix for his services after he opted not to renew his contract with Wimbledon.

“I had a conversation with Chris [Powell] over the summer,” said Taylor. “There was an interest, but it wasn’t realised before I signed for Charlton. No-one offered me a contract. I would really like to play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, but if I don’t get offered a contract by Juventus or Barcelona then I’m not going to play for either of them.

“There wasn’t a contract, so they can’t have wanted me that much to offer me one.”

Taylor has certainly added an extra edge to Charlton’s forward play. Holding up the ball with his back to goal is a major strength and the new number nine scored on his debut at Sunderland on the opening weekend, before following up by notching in his first competitive game at The Valley for the South Londoners against Shrewsbury.

“Things are going okay,” said Taylor. “There is a lot more to come from me and the team is doing well.

“It’s been a bit tough when a lot of our players have been injured and stuff like that which we’ve had to deal with.

“Three goals in six matches is a good return but I know with this team there is more to come – if you ask the manager he will say the same.

“If I can score more goals and it helps the team pick up points then we’ll be closer to the ultimate goal – it is always about achieving promotion or success in football.”

Charlton face Wycombe Wanderers tomorrow but it is likely to be the last time this season they do not get a match called off for international commitments.

Taylor had been asked to play for Montserrat and will accept that call in future now that the number of players likely to be selected by their countries has swollen following the end of the transfer window.

“We’re part of the new CONCACAF Nations League and the country has been getting a lot of funding to have a team and get international football back,” explained the Greenwich-born forward.

“My little brother Joey, who plays for Horsham, is part of the squad and it would’ve been nice to go, but I said from the very beginning that Charlton has to be my priority.

“With Josh Cullen [Republic of Ireland U21s] and Jamie Ward [Northern Ireland] at the club and Igor [Vetokele] eligible for Angola then there are five who potentially could be playing international football.

“I said to the club ‘if we have three international call-ups and I’m the last one then I’ll go [because Charlton’s game would be postponed]’. But at the time [before the Wycombe game] Josh and Jamie were not in the building.

“Myself and Kristian said no because we only had two call-ups and Igor was injured. From this point we will probably have our games moved.”

A lot of Charlton’s activity came late in the window – with winger Ward a deadline day loan capture from Nottingham Forest. Central midfielder Cullen was snapped up last week from West Ham on the same arrangement.

“Josh was brilliant on Saturday,” said Taylor. “He was probably our best player, so he’s made a difference right away.

“It was hard when you looked around the squad – you had Peterborough signing 20 players and their squad is huge – but you have faith in the manager and Steve Gallen [head of recruitment] that they are doing their job.

“Billy Clarke will be back from injury in the next month or so.

“I’ve scored three goals and Karlan [Grant] has got two and two assists. But we need competition up top – and everywhere on the pitch.”

All money raised by Taylor will go to Cancer Research UK.
www.fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/lyles-giving-page-1


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