Meet the young Aussie coach keeping Tombides name alive at West Ham


Six years after Dylan Tombides’ Premier League dream was cruelly cut short by cancer, younger brother Taylor is flying the family flag at West Ham United - as a budding coach.

Taylor, 24, was part of the same Hammers Academy where Young Socceroo Dylan flourished before his untimely passing, aged just 20, from testicular cancer back in 2014.

Perth-raised Taylor was released by West Ham two years later to join Hull City, but a succession of injuries has forced a drastic career rethink.

And he’s now back at the east London club where he spent almost five years as a scholar, climbing the coaching ladder with the same gusto and desire he once showed as an ambitious young winger.

Taylor has former Socceroos captain Mile Jedinak - who forged a tight bond with the Tombides family after Dylan’s death - in his corner, as both advisor and mentor, in the aim of one day coaching at the elite level.

He’s been learning the ropes at the Irons’ famed Chadwell Heath training base in Essex for over a year, the breeding ground which spawned football royalty like Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe and Joe Cole.

“It’s different challenge altogether to my time there as a player,” Tombides said.

“You’re managing different individuals with different attitudes and personalities.

“It’s a big challenge but I think I’m doing quite well with it.”

Taylor was recruited by now departed Academy chief Terry Westley, the man who had let him go as a player.

“I’d already been coaching with the West Ham Foundation (schools program) and Terry knew what my ambitions were and he told me ‘if you get you’re B license there’s a job for you here’,” he said.

After drifting into non-league football with Canvey Island and then Redbridge FC in the Essex Senior League, Taylor didn’t need to be asked twice.

“I had a serious knee (meniscus) injury when I was still at West Ham and it led to about another 10 (soft tissue) injuries afterwards because every other muscle was over compensating," Tombides said.

“I sort of knew that I wasn’t going to be able to follow my playing dream, so I decided the next best thing was to stay involved in football as a coach.

“I already had my level 2 license, so I went onto get a UEFA B license so I could go ahead and teach kids the way I was taught (in his role working with West Ham’s U-11s).”

Taylor credits Jedinak - who is pursuing his own coaching path with former club Aston Villa - as a “massive influence”.

“Even when I was just playing he helped me in a lot of ways ... making sure I stayed focused and was doing the right things,” he said.

“With the coaching side of things, we talk about how you approach certain situations, and how to relate to kids and get your messages across.”

Where once he pondered life as a potential Premier League player alongside beloved brother Dylan, Taylor is now aiming high as coach - but with a proviso.

“It’s a difficult one because I’m still so young and lack experience,” he said.

“I’m looking to eventually go for my A license, maybe in a couple years.

“I want to stay at West Ham as long as possible and rise up the ranks there.

“The ultimate aim is find a first team to coach and to be a manager - that’s the aim now.

“I feel at home at West Ham - there’s a strong connection between the club and my family (mother Tracy and dad Jim).”

Taylor’s new incarnation has already taken him back home, coaching Australian youngsters at camps across the country last year under the West Ham banner.

Keeping the Tombides name alive at the club gives Taylor extra incentive.

“The inspiration that comes from Dylan - keeping our family presence there alive as long as possible,” he said.

Jedinak revealed his role in Taylor’s genesis.

“The first thing we always speak about is how the coaching is going,” Jedinak said.

“He keeps me updated and tells me what he needs to tell me.

“I know he’s enjoying it and it’s keeping him on a new path he’s chosen. He’s found a calling to it and it’s good to see.

“He’s had those setbacks as a player but credit to him .... he’s thought it through and is putting his focus and full commitment on to coaching.”