17 Questions with Derrick Williams


Acquired through the 2023 MLS Re-Entry Draft, defender Derrick Williams is one of the new faces on Atlanta United's roster for the 2024 season.

Williams has experience not only in MLS, playing with the LA Galaxy and D.C. United, but also experience internationally. He spent 11 years in England playing professionally and debuted in 2012 with Aston Villa before signing with Bristol City. In 2016, he joined Blackburn Rovers. All together, Williams made more than 250 appearances in England's Premier League, Championship and League One before coming to MLS in 2021.

We sat down with Williams and asked him 17 questions so that our 17s could get to know him better.

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Consistent, hard-working, and easy-going

Pre-game music choice?

Bit of everything, but I do have one song that I have to listen to. I am kind of superstitious like that. There is an English rapper called Kano and the song is called "Rock n Roller".

Where are you from and what does it mean to you?

I am from a bit of everywhere. I was born in Germany. While I was a baby, I moved to America until I was seven. Then from seven, I moved to Ireland until I was 15. When people ask me, I say I'm half-Irish, half-American, but I think I'm Irish deep down. Just because a lot of my friends are there, and I think it made me who I am today. It means a lot to me to be from Ireland.

Who is the one person you wish you could fly to Atlanta to see you play?

My mom. She has been my number one supporter since I was little. She used to drive up and down the country, so definitely her.

What is your first soccer memory?

It was the first jersey I got. I was living in America, and I had family visiting from Ireland. I was given an Ireland jersey; it was one of the old school ones. I just remember putting on and thinking 'Wow'.

You mentioned your mom. How are the game and your family linked together?

I would not be sitting right here with you guys if it wasn't for her. She had three kids and I swear she spent half of her time just driving me up and down the country. I am from a small town in Ireland called Tramore. I would finish school and she would drive to training - sometimes even two or three trainings. She put a lot of hard work in. I'm glad I made it professional to see her face and see how proud she was. It was nice to give back and help her.

What's the scouting report on your style of play?

I think I am consistent. I like to play hard. I pride myself in trying to bring the ball out from the back and pass from the back. I think that is probably my strong point. I try to be as vocal as I can and try to help the people around me. I think the more you speak, the better it is for everyone around.

When you are packing for a road trip, what is one thing you have to have every time?

My iPad. 100 percent. I often forget my headphones, so I am just blaring my iPad out on the plane which the lads don't like all the time.

If you were not a professional soccer player, what would you be doing?

Since I was about 20 or 21, I have kind of gone down the entrepreneurial kind of route. I think I would be a business owner of some sort. I have tried and failed quite a few already. My wife has her own business, so I try to learn a lot from her.

Who is your favorite soccer player, current or from your childhood, who is currently not in the league?

Growing up I loved (Zinedine) Zidane. I loved (Paolo) Maldini. When I got a bit older, I watched a lot of Rio Ferdinand and Steven Gerrard. Those four were probably my favorites.

Favorite athlete outside of the game?

Tiger Woods. I love golf. My dad loved golf as well and he was his favorite, so it kind of as instilled in me.

Best round you have ever shot?

Not great. 82.

Best advice you have ever received?

Take every play as it comes, and don't dwell on the last play. I have heard that a few times from different managers. It is important, especially as a defender, not to dwell if someone gets the better of you. If you misplace a pass, you forget about it and go again.

Go-to snack?

I love chocolate. I feel like the chocolate here is a bit different than in England. I used to enjoy it a Dairy Milk back in England.

Favorite TV show?

I got a few. Sons of Anarchy was one of them. Breaking Bad and Suits as well.

Most memorable moment of your career so far?

Making my debut for Ireland. That was by far the best moment for me. I remember it was one of the worst days in terms of rain. I remember standing there, the whistle blew, and I look across and Kylian Mbappé is there. I was a bit in awe, so definitely my debut against France.

What about the game brings you the most joy?

Just being in it, and being present. You are not thinking of anything else. I just love being in that moment. An hour might have flown by, but it only felt like five minutes. You are focused and locked in. Some people might say winning but fútbol is not all about winning. There are a lot up and downs. Just being present and on the field with the lads.

Photos: Meet some of the new faces of Atlanta United
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