Derrick Williams is next in line to step up to the plate in our 'Football Origins' feature...
We sat down with the defender to discuss his career so far, his firsts, his favourites and much more.
This piece was in the recent matchday programme against Queens Park Rangers.
First Football Memory
It would be when I first moved to Ireland and playing on the green in my estate with my friends. I remember the first day I landed, we were driving into my estate and I saw kids playing on the grass and I was up there with them within an hour!
Team You Supported Growing Up
Liverpool and Celtic. Mainly because my friends supported them and I just jumped on the bandwagon!
First Game You Attended
It was at St. Andrew’s to watch Birmingham City. I can’t remember who they were playing, but I went with a football team from Ireland, as we came over here on a trip.
First Football Shirt Owned
It was an Ireland jersey. When I lived in America, my cousins came over to visit and they brought me an Ireland jersey – a proper old one with a white collar. That was my first shirt.
First Pair of Football Boots
I think they were the Nike R9s. The black and blue ones.
Growing up, my favourite player was Steven Gerrard and then when I got a bit older it went to Zinedine Zidane, Rio Ferdinand and Ronaldinho, and now it’s Lionel Messi and Virgil van Dijk.
First Junior Team
Tramore FC. It was my local team in Ireland. I think I joined when I was seven and I was playing for their Under-9s.
Age You Were Scouted
I was first scouted when I was 11. There was a tournament in Ireland and I went on trial to Ipswich first and a few other clubs, including Aston Villa, which is where I signed. The setup was really good, the coaches were very good and I felt like I had a chance of making it to the first team.
My professional debut was in the Premier League, away to QPR. I came on with about half an hour to go. It finished 1-1. I was playing wing-back and I think I was marking Shaun Wright-Phillips. And I just remember Adel Taarabt was unbelievable on the ball.
Best Memory in Football
Playing against France. I’ll just never forget walking out and hearing the national anthem. That’s by far my best moment. I played in a testimonial for Ireland before that, but that was my official debut.
Best Advice Ever Received
I’ve had quite a few mentors who I’ve listened to and looked up to when I was younger. I can’t really remember one piece of advice, but my favourite saying at the moment is probably ‘tough times don’t last, tough people do’. When you’re going through bad times, you just have to try and stay level-headed and know that football is full of ups and downs, so if you’re going through a hard time, just stick in there. And I think that goes with life in general.
Advice For Young Players
Just have belief in yourself and back yourself. And know who the right people are to listen to, because you can have people filling your head with stuff that’s not necessarily true, so just listen to your coaches and work hard.