Trinidad and Tobago National Team goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams has been offered a deal by English Championship Division club Sheffield United and is expected to sign with the team early next month subject to a work permit approval.
Williams, the 22-year-old custodian of W Connection, returned from England on Monday, all smiles after learning from Sheffield head coach Bryan Robson that he wanted to sign him to the club and was confident that he will secure the necessary paperwork to go through with the deal.
The former St Anthony’s College player spent nineteen days on trial at the club after undergoing a previous trial in Hungary with Ujpest FC. He was subsequently offered a deal by Ujpest but requested time to make a decision due to the Sheffield trial. The Hungarian club allowed Williams up to July 11 because of their transfer deadline and things turned uncertain after the player suffered an ankle injury two days into his trial with Sheffield. But persistence and faith paid off.
“The experience in Hungary was good. I did well enough and the President and Head coach wanted me to sign. They offered the deal but I wanted to go to England and nothing was going to stop me. But then I got injured on the second day at Sheffield and had to do rehab for the next eight days and the deadline for the Hungary deal came up. That definitely had to be one of the hardest decisions in my career having to turn down the deal but I kept faith and it so turned out I did well enough after recovering and Sheffield made the offer in the end,” Williams told TTFF Media on Tuesday.
He added that doctors told him it would take eight days before he could resume the trial and the team physio worked feverishly to get him well again and he eventually resumed light training on July 11.
“The rehab there was ten times more intensive than normal training because I spent up to six hours day working on getting back well, but it was worth it.”
Sheffield requested that Williams spend an extra week and goalkeeper coach Andy Leaning relayed to him that the club had seen his performances against Guatemala and United States at the CONCACAF Gold Cup and were impressed. Robson, the former England captain, signed on as head coach in May taking over from Neil Warnock while assistant manager Brian Kidd has a rich history, having worked as assistants to Sven Goran Eriksson with the England team and Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United
“He (Leaning) said they saw the games and were interested in me. They kept me for an extra week and when I eventually resumed the trial I conceded the most amount of goals ever in a small sided game.” Williams laughed.
“But then I played a full trial game and did my part. We won 2-0 and the manager and the president said well done but I still wasn’t sure until the receptionist at the hotel told me next morning that I was all over the back page of the newspaper and Robson had made some good comments about me. After my agent gave me the news on the phone, he (Robson) and the chairman then spoke to me and made the offer and said they hoped to me get back up to the club in the quickest possible time once the permit came though. They said that they would find the necessary solution to ensure they sign me,” an excited Williams added. Sheffield has Ireland international Paddy Kenny and Ian Bennett as two other first team goalies
Currently terms and conditions of the contract are being worked out. Williams added that Spann left for Sunderland earlier this month after playing one game during his trial at Sheffield.
“I think the Pro League is of a good standard. It may not be as high as the Premier League or the Championship Division but it helped give me this opportunity to make it to the next level. I heard about the trial at Sheffield since last year but my aim was to get the caps and maintain my place in the National team and I did just that and I’m grateful for that opportunity. Now hopefully I can continue to use this new experience as a way of bettering myself as a goalkeeper and an overall professional,” stated Williams who has 18 appearances for T&T and was also the number two goalie for T&T at the 2001 FIFA Under 17 World Championship.