Tuesday 16 October 2018

Veteran Williams hoping for Ireland role after first ever call-up

20 May 2018; Shaun Williams of Republic of Ireland XI during Scott Brown's testimonial match between Celtic and Republic of Ireland XI at Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
20 May 2018; Shaun Williams of Republic of Ireland XI during Scott Brown's testimonial match between Celtic and Republic of Ireland XI at Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Shaun Williams believes that his age should not be a barrier to an international career with Ireland.

The Malahide man (31) was thrilled to get the nod from Martin O'Neill off the back of another good season with a Millwall side who fell just short of the Championship playoffs.

He voiced his frustration in March when he was excluded from the training camp and friendly in Turkey, but he was summoned this time around and was overjoyed to play a part in Scott Brown's testimonial on Sunday.

Williams is hoping to stay in O'Neill's plans for next Monday's game in Paris, but he will not be available for the friendly with USA on June 2 because he is getting married to his girlfriend Sinead Tobin 48 hours earlier.

O'Neill did reference Williams' age in the aftermath of the Celtic match, but the player feels he is capable of making an impact.

"If you are good enough then hopefully it does not matter what age you are although obviously I don't pick the team," said Williams.

"It would be unbelievable to go to Paris and play France next week, just fantastic. The recognition now is fantastic. I'm proud for myself and proud for my family. It's a case, I suppose, of never giving up."

He is trying to break into a position where Ireland have options and that was also referenced by O'Neill. Alan Browne played next to Williams at Celtic Park, while the manager mentioned Aston Villa's Conor Hourihane.

However, he is unlikely to feature in Paris as he is preparing for Villa's play-off decider with Fulham on Saturday along with fellow squad members Glenn Whelan and Scott Hogan.

Williams, who played in the League of Ireland until he signed for MK Dons as a 24-year-old, was in Spain when he heard about his Irish call. He had abandoned hope after his March disappointment and was shocked when word came through.

"We were in a playground with the boys (the couple have two kids) and Sinead said there were a few missed calls from my mam and dad so she said she'd ring them back to see if everything was alright.

"She did that and they immediately started to congratulate her. She asked them what they were talking about so they were the ones who told us.

"Then I got my phone out of the baby bag and it has nearly blow up with the number of missed calls and texts!"

"I didn't even know when the squad was being announced so I did not think about it. I was on holidays and totally switched off from football."

The call-up was a dream for Williams who used to go up and watch Ireland train when they were based at Gannon Park in Malahide. "It was great to be able to learn from Martin and Roy (Keane) at training on Friday.

"I idolised Roy as a kid. I was a Manchester United fan and he was my hero in the team. I got a few autographs from him over the years when Ireland trained at Malahide. This (call-up) tops off a great season."

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