The curious case of Jonny Williams and how the Euros can kick-start his career

Aged 27 years old, Jonny Williams has had a bit of an odd career.

After coming through the acclaimed Crystal Palace academy and making his debut in 2011, Williams was meant to be one for the future. For those who followed him at the time, he was a joy to watch and was a highly technical player. He could dribble, pick a pass and was a throwback to an era when playing football was more of an art than a science. Then the injuries happened.

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Just a few months into his career, Williams suffered a broken fibula and since then has been plagued with injuries. Within the ten year gap since, his best season came in 2013, when he made 29 league appearances for Crystal Palace. Since then, he’s roughly managed about 15 league appearances per team and has been at seven different clubs.

For those that watched the infamous ‘Sunderland Till I Die’ documentary, Williams was featured during his time playing for the North East club. Here, most of the interviews took place in the physio room, where Williams admitted that some of his problems were mental and he lacked self-belief. A likable character, Williams was not your typical, cliched modern footballer. Instead, he seemed like a guy who just wanted to play football and was frustrated with injuries.

Since his forgettable stint at Sunderland, his next move was to Charlton where he flourished. Under manager Lee Bowyer, he helped the club win promotion to the Championship where he went on to play 26 league games for them. Most of these where starts too, which looked as if he had turned a corner. Following a last-day relegation back to League One, he moved to Cardiff in January and made nine league appearances for the Welsh club. Then last week, to his surprise he was released. Once more, Jonny Williams found himself as a free agent.

However, speaking on the release, Williams sounded more upbeat and less unconfident compared to his Sunderland days. Williams was recently interviewed by the BBC and said “I feel relaxed. It’s never nice being released but I feel good in myself, I feel strong. It was disappointing how it panned out at Cardiff because I was excited about the move. I thought I did well when I got the chance but just didn’t quite get the rub of the green with team selections and stuff. Everything happens for a reason. I’m here now in a Wales jersey, so I’ve just got to keep moving forward and see what comes in the summer.”

With this said, it’s clear that Williams is mentally in the right space. The good news is that he’s also played 28 times for Wales during his career, and was an integral player in the 2016 Euros squad. Ironically, this squad featured Hal-Robson Kanu who was also a free agent at the time. His goal heroics vs Belgium earned him a move to Premier League side West Bromwich Albion, which is something Williams is looking to emulate.

So, what next for Williams? It’s highly plausible that he will go on to have a solid campaign for Wales as the last couple of seasons have seen his injuries lessened which is nice to see. If it goes well, he should have a number of suitors waiting for him in the Championship. One possibility of this is linking up with his old boss Lee Bowyer, who previously got the best out of him whilst at Charlton. This would see Williams move to Birmingham City who have been a solid if unspectacular Championship club for some time now. Hopefully, it pans out like this, otherwise, it’s back to the drawing board for a player whose career has sadly been plagued by injuries and inconsistencies.

The Author

Jake Cutler

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