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Devon 'Speedy' Williams making mark for club and country

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS
williamss@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, October 21, 2021

By nature and deed, Devon “Speedy” Williams is not in the habit of blowing his own trumpet or forcing the hand of time.

Instead, he prefers to take things the proverbial one step at a time and to let his football do the talking for him. Consequently, the Reggae Boyz midfielder's growth in the team has not gone unnoticed by those who have an eye for such things.

Among them is Boyz Head Coach Theodore Whitmore, who described the Miami FC player in this fashion: “What Devon Williams brings to the team is that he does the simple, but effective things.”

Assistant Jamaica coach, British-born Paul Hall, remains a fan of Williams' playing style and thinks the “quiet giant” has an important role to play as the Boyz chase World Cup qualification.

“Devon Williams is a fantastic close control player who can receive the ball in the middle of the park and drive us forward,” said Hall during the Concacaf Gold Cup in July.

Williams, after a spell where the coaches mulled how to get the best of him, has now earned his stripes and is considered a key figure as the Boyz chase a range of dreams.

In six Concacaf World Cup qualifying matches, the former St George's College standout has played in all, including starting four. At the recent Concacaf Gold Cup in the USA, he played all four matches and started two — both competitions providing testimony to his rising stocks in a team bursting with individual talent.

Williams, 29, says he is pleased with his progress at club and international levels.

“I'm quite pleased with my growth as a professional footballer. I've been consistently and steadily progressing and I'm truly thankful,” he told the Jamaica Observer recently.

The former New York Red Bulls II signee thinks his Jamaica coaches are finally realising his worth.

“I think this [more playing time] is so because the coaching staff sees the value I bring to the team. I might not pop out at you on the score sheet but, if you watch closely, you'll see what I bring,” Williams noted.

With nearly 30 caps under his belt, Williams is already looking for greater input as the team looks to the remaining World Cup Qualifying games and beyond.

“Yes, I see myself making a greater input as long as I continue to do my job and help the team in the way the coach wants.

“I'm proud of the contribution I've been making to the national team and the World Cup qualifiers. It's a team sport and I'm being the best team player I can be. Over the last three months, my best games were the two Costa Rica games – one in the Gold Cup and the other in World Cup qualifiers – and the recent win over Honduras.

“In my opinion, they were the team's best games as well. This is because we were together, confident, and aggressive,” Williams reasoned.

In six matches, Jamaica have five points and sit in sixth position of the Octagonal.

The Boyz had lost 1-2 to Mexico, 3-0 to Panama, and 2-0 to the USA, plus draws against Costa Rica (1-1) and Canada (0-0) and a 2-0 victory – a rare win in Honduras recently.

But Williams thinks it's within the constitution of the squad to reverse bad fortunes.

“What have gone wrong in my opinion is the lack of togetherness. However, we have made great strides in the last few games and, thankfully, we still have time to completely turn it around.

“Firstly, it [defeating Honduras 2-0] felt great to finally get three points on the board. The win should serve as a wake-up call and confidence-booster for us to start believing that we are among the best in this region and start playing like it,” Williams noted.

With a nation hungry for more football success at the global level since historic France '98, the boy from tough Southside has embraced his role as a protagonist in pursuit of that World Cup qualification repeat.

“Personally, helping my country qualify for another World Cup would be an extremely proud moment. I'm driven by the fact that, if we succeed, I'll be making all the people that believed and supported me in my career very proud. I'm looking towards their happiness more than mine. It's really not all about me,” asserted Williams.

For the former Louisville FC man to find his footing in a team with big names coming in from the UK says a lot about his belief in self and sense of competition.

“I love competition as it brings out the best in me. What drives me is the fact that every practice session and game I strive to be the best I can be. It excites me to learn and improve and I have a burning desire to always get better,” Williams said.

In his central midfield role, Devon Williams may not be viewed as the high-wire artiste who mesmerises the audience, but he would be more the trapeze that keeps the circus star from falling.

Whatever he does, it is effective but without the frills — the Devon Williams way.

“Having a composed playing style is natural. I've learnt that less is sometimes more, especially in the position I play.

“Yes, I think where I have been used is the best position for me to be most effective and help the team,” he shared.

Williams, who also captained Jamaica at the Under-20 level, says his goals and aspirations in the sport are pretty straightforward.

“My goals and aspirations as a professional haven't changed much since I became a pro. I want to compete at the highest level week in and week out. I also want to ultimately help my country qualify for the 2022 World Cup,” he stated.

Williams says he hopes his story will serve to inspire a young man or woman in Jamaica, especially those who may feel a sense of hopelessness at this time.

“I play for every youth who didn't get a chance to and also for those who are still dreaming of getting that opportunity.

“I hope I can be a good example for many in the Southside community where I'm from. I want them to know that it's OK to be different and not succumb to what seems like the norm. I am a living example, as God had a different plan for my life,” he said.

At his club Miami FC, Williams is also having a game-changing impact at the South Florida franchise.

“Since moving to Miami FC, it's been challenging, but we have jumped those hurdles successfully. I've helped the team to create history by qualifying for the play-offs for the first time ever in the United Soccer League (USL) Championship.

“In our success, I just know what it takes to win, and I understand that everyone plays a role, from the very top down to the kit manager, and that we need each other. That's what I try to implement in the team,” Williams ended.

Editor's note: The author of this article is in no way related to the subject.