Rhys Williams’ Premier League debut against Tottenham earlier this week earned him praise from both Jordan Henderson and Jürgen Klopp. Such a young player earning plaudits from his captain and manager in a top of the table clash is no small feat, and Williams himself was understandably thrilled to make an impact in possibly the biggest match of the season to date.
In an interview with the club’s website, Williams described how he felt about his performance after having a few days to reflect.
“I was happy with how it went, I wouldn’t really change anything apart from maybe the [Tottenham] goal I could have done a bit better with,” said Williams. “But looking back on it, that’s how I want my debut to go really. I’m over the moon with how it’s gone. And putting us back to the top of the table, it’s a huge win.”
One of the biggest talking points in regards to Williams’ debut has been his communication on the pitch. While this is a key trait for a center-back, a 19-year-old could be forgiven for being a little hesitant to give direction to more senior players on a team of Liverpool’s caliber. However, being vocal is an important part of the young defender’s game, and he is not going to let his youth prevent him from using his voice.
“I’ve been encouraged to do it since maybe when we had Steven [Gerrard] as our manager at first-year scholar level, and I’ve just tried to keep developing it year on year,” Williams said. “It’s a big part of a center-back’s game, being able to talk, because you can see it all and we need to be the loudest players on the pitch, for me, apart from the ‘keepers.”
“Just because I’m a younger player doesn’t mean I can’t talk on the pitch, so I just keep trying to do that because it helps everyone else out as well.”
Tottenham was hardly an easy first Premier League test for the young Englishman, so there were some nerves for him as he prepared for the match. However, he knew he could rely on his teammates to help him out, and he also received some encouragement from Curtis Jones, another young Liverpool Academy product who was in the same situation not too long ago.
“I knew I was going to be helped out by the rest of the team, it’s filled with great players. So I wasn’t too worried about that. I was just thinking about how to stop probably the most in-form duo in the world right now,” admitted Williams.
“I spoke to Curtis as well, he told me: ‘Just play your game, you’re obviously good enough to be there or the manager wouldn’t be putting you on such a stage.’ So I trusted in my own ability and tried to go from there really.”
Williams also touched on how he’s managed to stay grounded as he’s quickly progressed from being an academy player to a squad member with a growing role for the defending Premier League champions in just a few short months.
“My dad plays a massive part in that. He is quite level-headed and he knows I’m doing well now, but I’ve not achieved anything over-spectacular yet. So I need to just keep going, keep plugging away, and keep doing what I’m doing to keep getting the opportunities. And when it comes, I’m going to try to take it as best I can.”