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Tuesday, 23 January, 2001, 19:57 GMT
1000-up for Taylor
Graham Taylor passes 1000 league mark
On Thursday, the League Managers' Association honour Watford manager Graham Taylor, who this season became only the third manager ever to take charge of 1,000 league games.

Following Brian Clough and Jim Smith, Taylor, who began managing at Lincoln as a 27-year-old in 1972, joins an elite club.

Here, BBC Sport Online talks to footballers who, over the past 29 years, played under Taylor during his time in charge at Lincoln, Aston Villa, Wolves and his two spells at Watford.

Dennis Leigh (Lincoln 1974-1980)

Graham was only about three years older than me when I joined but he had the respect of all the players.

Even then, you could tell he had something special. We had players with talent and he showed us various ways we could play and patterns to play to when things were going against us.

I said at the time that one day he would go on to be England manager.

He was also brilliant at getting the community together. He was famous for doing it at Watford but Lincoln were the original family club.

Leigh is now the advertising manager at the Lincolnshire Echo

Ray Train (Watford 1978-1982)

  Taylor's 1000+
Lincoln (1972-77) 209
Watford (1977-87) 428
Aston Villa (1987-90) 120
Wolves (1994-95) 75
Watford (1995-) 178 up to Jan 22
Graham was in his early 30s when I joined from Bolton and he was a very ambitious young man. He was very single-minded and all his efforts went into one thing, and that was success.

He constantly told players what they were capable of achieving. The style was different to what I was used to but it was great to be part of the success

He got the best from his teams and installed great self-belief.

When we faced Southampton in a League Cup tie 4-0 down from the first leg, he convinced us we would go through.

We won the second leg 7-1 against a team a division above.

Train is now chief scout at Middlesbrough.

  Taylor's honours
1976: 4th Div champions (Lincoln)
1978: 4th Div champions (Watford)
1979: Promotion to Div 2
1982: Promotion to old Div 1
1983: Div 1 runners-up
1984: FA Cup runners-up
1988: Promotion to old Div 1 (Aston Villa)
1990: Div 1 runners-up
1998: Div 2 Champions (Watford)
1999: Promotion to Premiership
1972-2001: A record 29 manager of the month awards

Derek Mountfield (Aston Villa 1988-1991)

I have the highest regard and admiration for Graham Taylor. He treats players with respect, which some managers occasionally find difficult.

His attention to detail is fantastic, not just on the playing side, but also ensuring the players' families are happy and everything around the game is looked after.

Graham is often saddled with a long ball label, but this is completely unfair.

He often used to have lengthy team meetings on tactics and planning, and he never just advocated use of the long ball.

He would not have had the success he has had, and is still having, if he had been as limited as that.

Mountfield is now manager of Cork City

David Kelly (Wolves 1993-1995)

David Kelly
David Kelly in his Wolves days
I thought Graham was a fantastic manager, although it was only after I left that I really began to appreciate what I had learnt from him and how good he was.

Out of the 18 managers I have now played under, he is undoubtedly among the best and one whose methods I would use if I moved into coaching.

When Wolves gave him the sack I said they would live to regret it.

Graham Taylor was the man who would get them to the Premiership as he went on to do with Watford with far fewer resources

Kelly is now playing for Sheffield United

Alec Chamberlain (Watford 1996 - present)

Ever since his playing career was cut short he has always had a great desire to succeed in management and has not lost any of his enthusiasm.

He was heavily criticised at the end of his England spell but went back and succeeded at club management again, which speaks volumes for him as a person.

No-one will forget what he has done at Watford and I am sure if Wolves had given him more time he would have succeeded there too.

I can't see him retiring. After relegation last year he could have called it a day but the fires are still burning and he is desperate to get Watford back into the Premiership.

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