Manchester United reeled in shock when their ‘very sweet kid’ Max Taylor was diagnosed with cancer… but after a gruelling year he has beaten the disease and is ready to follow his pal Mason Greenwood into the first team
- Max Taylor played role in Man United Under 18s’ league triumph two years ago
- But months after that success, centre-back Taylor had to stop playing football
- The youngster was diagnosed with testicular cancer back in October 2018
- He agreed a new contract extension at Premier League giants earlier this week
It takes a special type of person to win a place in Manchester United’s first team as a young player.
First you have to earn a place in the most famous academy in English football. Then you have to fight to keep that place amid the most intense competition. Finally you have to prove you belong among some of the biggest stars in the professional game at the most scrutinised club in world football.
Imagine having to achieve all of that, and then beat cancer as well.
Max Taylor is on course to do just that.
Defender Max Taylor, 20, has signed a one-year contract extension at Manchester United
The youngster overcame testicular cancer last year following nine weeks of chemotherapy
Taylor this week signed a new contract extension with United, continuing his remarkable start to life in football – and life full stop.
He played an important role in Manchester United Under 18s’ league triumph two years ago, as part of the defence in a team which also featured Brandon Williams, Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong and Mason Greenwood.
That quartet has given the Old Trafford faithful hope and a sign of a bright future as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues to rebuild his side with an emphasis on youth.
However, months after success within the club’s youth ranks, centre-back Taylor had to stop playing football. His progress and development were curtailed and it was hard to believe he would ever follow his academy team-mates’ path into the first team.
The youngster underwent a precautionary scan in the summer of 2018 and was diagnosed with testicular cancer in October of that year.
‘The cyst had gone and the cancer, the lump, was actually inside the testicle, so you wouldn’t have been able to feel it anyway, so it was actually a blessing,’ Taylor said.
Taylor had surgery on October 4, 2018 to remove his left testicle and a month later had to undergo a nine-week course of chemotherapy after the cancer spread.
United revealed he had successfully responded to treatment in February 2019 but Taylor had to have another operation weeks later.
He underwent a five-and-a-half-hour operation to remove six swollen lymph nodes.
Taylor returned to the field after his cancer all-clear for United’s reserves last September
Centre-back Taylor was part of the same United Under 18s side as starlet Mason Greenwood
‘That was like the low point because I was still in, couldn’t really do much like things you take for granted. I couldn’t even sit up because it was a cut straight through my abdominal,’ Taylor added.
The 20-year-old highly-rated defender, who has been with United since the age of 14, was able to start rebuilding his fitness in May last year.
Taylor, who is a Manchester native, signed his first professional contract at the Red Devils in January 2018 and was able to train with his team-mates in the autumn of 2019.
Taylor was part of a youthful Manchester United squad that travelled to Astana last November
A full year after being diagnosed with the disease Taylor stepped onto a football pitch in a United shirt as he came off the bench in United U23s’ 4-1 win at Swansea.
He featured six times for the U23 team in Premier League 2 and was also named on the bench alongside a host of academy players for United’s UEFA Europa League match away to Astana in Kazakhstan last November.
Hailed as an ‘inspiration’ by former United manager Jose Mourinho and current boss Solskjaer, Taylor’s career is now back on track after beating cancer.
Tottenham boss Mourinho was in charge of United when Taylor was diagnosed with the illness and gave an insight into his character after he was included in United’s first-team squad for the first time.
Hailed as an ‘inspiration’ by ex-United manager Jose Mourinho, Taylor’s career is back on track
‘Very sweet kid, fantastic young professional and when we had the news, everybody was in shock, but I think the first one to motivate everyone at United was him,’ the Portuguese said.
‘I think he was the one that motivated all of us.
‘Lots of people, including myself, we tried to hide tears when we knew it. He was the one who motivated everyone, he was the one who was feeling strong, he was the one who was ready for this fight so that’s amazing, amazing, amazing news for the club and for all of us connected to him.
‘You know he won the biggest match of his career, so everybody is happy.’
The defender is highly rated at Old Trafford and has shown incredible character to return
Taylor will now be setting his sights on winning games with the Red Devils after agreeing a new one-year contract extension at the club on Wednesday.
He had been sent out on loan to Northern Premier League outfit Stalybridge Celtic back in January and made nine appearances before the Covid-19 pandemic brought a halt to the season.
‘There’s a lot of people out there who think, like I did, that people only remember them for having cancer,’ Taylor said. ‘They’d be like “ah, that’s what you’ve done, you’re amazing to get out of that”.
‘But I think the message is that you can be more than that – and I want to be more than that.’
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