WHEN he left Perth as a teenager chasing his soccer dream, Adam Taggart had no intention of returning before the twilight of a long professional career.
But a testing run of injuries during his stint at English Championship club Fulham led the talented striker to conclude there could be no better place than home to get his body – and his head – back into the business of playing good, enjoyable soccer.
The ECU Joondalup product will be back in Perth Glory colours this season where he could be a part of one of the A-League’s most damaging up-front partnerships alongside Irish marksman Andy Keogh and reigning Johnny Warren Medallist Diego Castro, who the Glory re-signed last week.
How coach Kenny Lowe will squeeze such riches of firepower into his starting line-up remains a tantalising quandary as the players prepare to start pre-season.
Still only 23, Taggart is considered one of the country’s top young strikers and has already notched seven games and three goals for the Socceroos, as well as winning the A-League Golden Boot award with Newcastle United in 2013-14.
His transfer from Fulham back to Glory, which came after a short loan stint at Scottish Premiership side Dundee United, was sealed in January but he was not able to play as FIFA regulations limit the number of clubs players can play for in a season to two.
A longer than normal break has allowed Taggart to freshen up, settle into his new home in Leederville and regain excitement for the game he loves.
“To be honest when I was overseas, the plan was not to come back until you’re 30 and prolong your career away as much as possible,” Taggart told communitynews.com.au
“I think going overseas is difficult at the best of times, let alone when you sort of have 12 months out of the game and then try to break into any first team, especially somewhere like Fulham, which is a big club in a big competition.
“Coming home in the end there was definitely no regrets.
“You’ve got to look at everything; what’s going to be the best thing for my body, not necessarily starting again but to be able to take that approach where it’s just a fresh start.
“I know the head coach, I know the assistant coach, I know the physios, I knew the club really well and it was sort of about just getting back to the right environment to succeed again.
“Whether you go somewhere from that or not, it is still important to enjoy football and I think maybe while I was over there with injuries and things like that you start to lose that.”
Taggart, who grew up in Currambine and went to school at Prendiville Catholic College in Ocean Reef, played junior soccer at ECU Joondalup like so many of his current Glory teammates.
He was also part of the State’s underage NTC development program, which is where he was first involved with Lowe.
“The older you get the more you realise how important it is to be playing under people you really respect and enjoy playing football for, and Kenny Lowe and (Glory assistant coach) Andy Ord I knew from my younger days so it’s been really enjoyable being back,” he said.
“It’s always a big risk going to somewhere where you don’t know a coach but everyone knows how good Kenny is and how he brings the best out of people.”
No less than eight of this year’s Glory squad have previous links to ECU Joondalup – fellow big name new signings Shane Lowry, Chris Herd and Aryn and Rhys Williams all started their careers there – and Taggart said the squad’s combination of local connections, age and sheer talent was reason for excitement among WA fans.
“It’s nice to have everyone coming back and all at good ages where you are either in the peak of your career or heading towards it rather than the other day around, which is usually the case,” he said.
“Definitely it is going to benefit all the players having such a quality squad, just everyday training is going to feel like a top European squad.”
Taggart has endured a difficult two years since 2014, when he was the only West Australian picked in Ange Postecoglou’s World Cup squad for Brazil after scoring a league-high 16 goals playing for Newcastle Jets.
He played only a limited role in Brazil behind the likes of Tim Cahill as the Socceroos were bundled out at the group stage.
Injuries have kept him off the park more than he has been on it since, but Taggart still harbours ambitions to play at the highest level; especially with the announcement that Perth will host a World Cup qualifier against Iraq on September 1.
“To have that game here sort of pushes everyone to do that bit better because you want to be involved in a game in your home town,” Taggart said.
“I’ve always been someone with high goals so that’s the way I’m going to carry on going. I’m hard on myself and I want to be the best that I can be.”
In the meantime, he is also looking forward to reuniting with all of the West Australian-bred players in the squad and teaming with the likes of Castro, who scored 13 goals last year en route to being named the Glory’s and the league’s best player.
“Especially for me being a striker, it’s fantastic to have someone like that re-sign at the club to add to the team,” Taggart said.
“I’ve got a history with the club growing up and watching all the games as a young kid; as much as any supporter out there I want to see Glory do as best as they can do.”