Steven Taylor has described his return to the Wellington Phoenix as a "no-brainer".
Following a season playing for Odisha FC in the Indian Super League, the former Premier League defender has recommitted to the club he played 49 games for in the last two years and will soon link up with them in Wollongong for the remainder of the A-League campaign.
"I kept in touch with the staff and players while I was in India and they kept me up to date with how things were going," said Taylor from his quarantine hotel room in Brisbane.
"I watched the games and kept an eye on the results. With the season finishing early in India, I wanted to keep playing and this opportunity came around. It was a no-brainer for me," he said.
Taylor's return provides a massive boost for the side he captained to their highest regular season finish in 2019/20. The Phoenix have struggled so far this season, winning just two of their nine games to sit second-last on the ladder.
As well as his undoubted playing pedigree and experience, Taylor's vocal on-field leadership has been sorely missed. While Mexican attacker Ulises Davila will retain the captain's armband, the on-field direction, particularly in defence, will increase significantly with Taylor back.
"Seeing all the boys is what I'm looking forward to first and foremost," Taylor said.
"I can't wait to get back on the training pitch with them and get that feel-good factor back. Putting the number 27 shirt back on is going to be the next best thing; getting out there and enjoying my football.
"I'm excited to get back on the pitch and put smiles on the fans' faces. Hopefully we can play some enjoyable football and get the results they want."
Taylor's time in India wasn't successful. His side finished last on the 11-team ISL ladder with just two wins from 20 outings. Coach Stuart Baxter – who Taylor worked with as an England under-17 international – was assured he could recruit the players he needed to chase success, but those promises weren't kept, with the squad instead filled with young, inexperienced locals who simply couldn't match it with the other sides in the competition.
While Taylor would never say it, he could be forgiven for reflecting on his time in India with frustration and disappointment at broken promises and ongoing logistical challenges. Instead, he prefers to focus on the positives.
"It was an experience. The things you see certainly open your eyes and you appreciate things a lot more. I enjoyed the football but there's no comparison with what I had with Wellington.
When Taylor rejoins the Phoenix, there will be 15 games left in the 26-match A-League regular season and while he and coach Ufuk Talay will assess his readiness for a return to the field, the 35-year-old is renowned for his fitness and keeping his body in tip-top shape.
As such, two weeks in a hotel room will be a test, but one he's happy to take on, with the help of exercise programmes supplied by club physios, Zoom calls with teammates, friends and family and a stack of Netflix series to watch in his downtime.
"For me, it's keeping fit in quarantine and keeping my body ticking over. You have to keep yourself busy. You can't get bored and restless. I want to be in the best shape possible when I get out."
"The excitement is definitely there and I'm sure the adrenaline will get me through the games as well."
While his fresh Phoenix contract is just for this season, there's sure to be a desire on the part of both player and club to extend the deal.
"Obviously I would like that, but we'll have to wait and see," said Taylor.
"I'm not going to get carried away. First and foremost, I want to get into camp, see the boys and play this season. That's the most important thing.
"Everyone knows me as a Newcastle lad, but Wellington is my second home. I love the feel around the club, the support of the fans and the city. Even now, the support has been incredible with welcoming me back."
One thing that will have to wait though is Taylor's now famous love of jet-skiing, fostered during his time in Wellington. Unfortunately, conditions off the shore of Wollongong aren't quite as friendly.
"I was safer in Wellington. I'll enjoy the beach, but not jet-skiing. Not with the waves out here!"