Williams: There are prospects for released youngsters

19 Sep 2021

Former Everton defender says Academy players who are let go, like he was, can benefit from PL support

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As a player who was released as a teenager but went on to enjoy a successful career, Ashley Williams is encouraging youngsters to react positively to such setbacks and seize opportunities like those being provided by the Premier League.

Williams was let go by West Bromwich Albion when he was young. But he responded by working his way up from non-league to play in the Premier League with Swansea City and Everton.

After speaking to youngsters at the Premier League's Under-16 Development Programme for released players earlier this year, he said: "It isn't the end of the world, although it feels like that.

"There are a lot of other teams out there. You know, maybe that's just that one club. What they're looking for just didn't work out there."

Williams believes young players who are released need to show resilience and be honest about what they can do better.

"Get comfortable with the uncomfortableness of that feeling of rejection, because it happens in life, and [it's important] not to take it too personally," he added.

"Try and evaluate and reflect on maybe why that happened and where you can improve, and then work as hard as you can to improve that. Then if you do get another chance, which I'm sure most of the boys will, try and seize it."

Career advice

Williams was among the guest speakers for the Under-16 Development Programme, which included recent camps run at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre and Loughborough University.

Those who attended were given insight into careers both in and outside of football, and were given help in opening up about their mental wellbeing.

"Schemes like this are great because you've got people around you and the boys can lean on people that are there for them to support them in their journey, especially after a knockback," says Williams.

"I think the game's changed a lot now and there's a lot more awareness around situations like this."

Also in this series

Part 1: 'We have a generation of exceptional talent'
Part 2: PL Academies provide positive experience, say parents
Part 3: How Liverpool helped Joel stay in football
Part 4: Onoabhagbe: League showed me options after my release
Part 5: Under-16 programme giving hope to released players

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