Former Aston Villa defender Derrick Williams has come out in support of disgraced youth boss Kevin MacDonald after the veteran coach was sacked by the club in August following an investigation into claims of bullying that stretched back over 25 years.
Gareth Farrelly, who graduated through the ranks under MacDonald in the mid-1990s and also earned six senior caps for the Republic of Ireland, last year revealed details of what he described as “a culture of verbal and physical bullying… a toxic, bullying culture for young players.”
Further accusations were subsequently levelled at MacDonald, who was also an assistant to Steve Staunton with Ireland between 2006-07, relating to 2015 and 2016, before Villa parted ways with their head of football development with immediate effect during the summer.
Williams, now with Blackburn Rovers, was speaking ahead of Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifier away to Georgia tomorrow and insisted he never suffered similar experiences to Farrelly, or those other victims, during his time under MacDonald from 2009-12.
“I was bit disappointed to be honest, as Kevin Mac was brilliant for me, him and Tony (McAndrew). I owed them a lot because of not only the player I am but man I am today. They were really good. I enjoyed playing for them both. I was a bit gutted for them,” Williams said.
“You know it’s never personal. They got me ready for first team football, that’s what they are there for. One of the things I regret (is not being in touch since). I saw Tony at one of my games a few years ago. He was in the stands, but I didn’t get to say hello.”
Williams, 26, feels he has been playing some of the best football of his career this season, since Rovers manager Tony Mowbray concentrated on using him as a left-sided centre back as opposed to a full back.
The Waterford native confirmed Ireland boss Mick McCarthy has told him he may be required to fill in for the suspended Enda Stevens, and he has no qualms about doing so considering he wasn’t originally selected.
“That was one of my goals this season — to get a solid place in this squad. I don’t want to be on standby like I was so here’s my chance.
“I saw Mick McCarthy saying earlier that with lads injured, it’s ‘his chance to take’. So I am 100% ready to do that.
Williams made his Ireland debut at left-back against France in Paris before last summer’s World Cup and revealed his frustration at not being able to use that as a catalyst for better things.
“Last year was a tough year for me as I kept getting injured. I’d play three games and then get injured for three games and it was an ongoing situation.
“I always knew that if I got fully fit and kept my head down then hopefully I would get back in. I think that now is the right time so I’m looking forward to trying to impress Mick and the staff and giving it a right go.”