Psychology Student Syd Has ‘Football’ In The Blood

After a somewhat lengthy spell away from the beautiful game, Forest midfielder, Sydnie ‘Syd’ Naylor, in enjoying herself again, and can’t wait to get back out there.

London-born Naylor, who’ll turn 21 in early March, splits her time between the South, the East Midlands, and Yorkshire, or she was doing prior to the ongoing, global crisis, her time being shared between family (South), Forest (East Midlands) and University (Yorkshire), the latter of which sees her studying towards a BSc Hons in Psychology at the University of Sheffield.

Football though, it’s in the blood that courses through Syd’s family, her great uncle, Terry Naylor, nicknamed ‘Meathook,’ was a seventies star at White Hart Lane, part of the Tottenham Hotspur side who won the UEFA Cup in 1972, and were runners-up two years later, going on to make over three hundred appearances for the club; and two cousins, Thomas Cruise turning out for Arsenal, appearing in the UEFA Champions League against Greek outfit, Olympiacos, before going on to appear for Carlisle United (loan) and Torquay United whilst also being capped by England at U16, U17 and U19 level, and Courtney Naylor, who, although played lower league football, was mentioned in Stuart Pearce’s biography.

The former Forest player, and manager, stated that he had: “tried to sign a young non-league player called Courtney Naylor, recommended to me by an old Forest team-mate Steve Wigley who was then manager at Aldershot. …

“By one of those strange coincidences I was at Dagenham with the England Under-18 team a couple of years later and I asked after the player.

“I was told he had gone off the boil a bit and had been sold on to Enfield or somewhere like that for a few quid.

“Who knows what might have happened had the manager allowed him to spend a few weeks at Nottingham Forest and he had impressed me?”

Syd meanwhile, she’s followed the family passion and is a Gunner herself, going as far herself as having pulled on the famous red and white jersey.

Having first kicked a ball when she was five-years-old, “because I have an older brother who also played so I just copied him,” she laughs.

“Dad though, he went as far as setting up a football club, so I owe him a lot for doing that; he instilled the discipline, and the technical ability, that I harnessed to succeed as a player.”

In progressing under her fathers’ watch, Syd would soon be seen to move into the Arsenal Women’s set-up, where, although fraught towards the end of her time there, she did become aware of her now Forest boss, Andy Cook, he also having had a spell with the North London club.

“Dad’s family are from North London, and are Arsenal fans, season ticket holders, so I’ve always been one myself,” explained Syd.

“I played for the Gunners up their U17s and was part of their FA Youth Cup tea,, but walked away straight after the final as I’d become desperately unhappy; things had changed towards the end and I was only going for the football.”

Arsenal’s loss, eventually, became Nottingham Forest’s gain, even though it took the young midfielder time to get her head back into the game.

During that period Syd found herself heading up north, to the University of Sheffield, and would begin studying towards a degree in Psychology, a one which she is now traversing her third year.

A hard task at the best of time, but having to work through such an important year, in the middle of a pandemic, would, understandably, make things just that little bit more difficult.

And, after several years away from the sport, Syd has felt the strain of the past twelve months.

“I’ve loved Uni life, and playing uni football, as well as the course itself,” continued Syd.

“It’s also helped a lot with my confidence, whilst being away from home.

“Being here (at the University of Sheffield) also helped me get back into the game and, although I had a trial at a Championship club, I knew Liv (Olivia Cook), and of Andy (Cook) which sealed the deal for me in going there (to Forest), even though I was put in at left-back to begin with.”

In joining Forest, a little over twelve months ago now, her time there has been blighted by both injury, and the pandemic.

It has however also offered the opportunity for Syd to be able to focus o both rehabilitation, and her university dissertation.

“I’m presently undergoing rehab due to ongoing knee issues and have to go back to scratch and rebuild, doing daily strength exercises, and keeping myself going the best I can,” admits Syd.

“I really needed this season though, needed to get up to speed, especially having only joined Forest midway through last season; I want that chance to be able to express myself on the football field.”

As for that psychology degree, and her ongoing dissertation where she, around NBA (National Basketball Association) data, is looking at that of ‘Too Much Of A Good Thing – A Look At The Too Much Talent Effect In Competitive Sport.’

That, alongside Syd’s longstanding interest in mental health, sees her continue to push boundaries she’s set herself as she works towards a better future.

“I’ve grown up around mental health, since I was about 11-12-years-old,” explained Syd.

“There’s been a longstanding interest in both that, and psychology, so doing the degree was always going to be something I’d take to and was an easy decision to make.

“I also wanted to experience the move away from home and coming to Sheffield was the only, real option for me.

“As for the future, and seeing the progression which my former Arsenal teammates continue to make, I’ve got levels myself that I’m still aiming for and I know that I can hit the same.

“I love it here at Forest so I want to be able to help them get back to where they belong, whilst progressing myself, both on, and off, the football pitch, at the same time.”

*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).

*Main image @Josh Dixon Sydnie in action for Nottingham Forest against West Brom.

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