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Shaun Williams: Dons move was a gamble that paid off

Former star reflects on his time at Stadium MK...

5 May 2020

Former MK Dons man Shaun Williams says his move to Stadium MK was a career gamble that paid off.

Williams joined the Dons as a free agent in March 2011 and over the course of the next two-and-a-half years he went on to make over 100 appearances as well as receive the Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year awards at the end of the 2012/13 campaign.

Speaking to Irish Football Fan TV, the Irishman reflected on his time in Milton Keynes and admitted the decision to move across the Irish Sea was one that carried risk – but one that proved worthwhile.

He recalled: “[While I was with Sporting Fingal] Celtic offered them £150,000 for me and for the first year of the three-year deal, I was to go on loan to MK Dons. I was all over it but they rejected the deal. Five days later, the Club went into administration.

“It was February 7th, so just after the transfer window. I was a free agent but I couldn't play for another team until the following the season.

“Celtic came back in and offered me the same contract but I said no. I needed it to be right for me, if I was going to move away. They came in again with a bit of the fee they were going to pay for me but I said no again. It just didn't feel right.

“[My agent] then got onto MK Dons and they said straight away that they would sign me. Damien Doyle was the fitness coach there and I knew a couple of his brothers. Stephen Gleeson was there at time too, and I knew him from before.

“I jumped at the opportunity more than I thought about it. I signed there for a year, initially, which was a bit of a gamble. After a month, I signed a new two-year deal. The gamble certainly paid off and I'm happy that I made that decision.”

He added: “I loved it at MK Dons. The stadium is massive and nothing compared to it in the Irish league. The style of play that the team played definitely suited me as well.”

Williams arrived at Stadium MK as a central midfielder but spent the majority of his time at the Club operating in the centre of defence.

It was a tactical tweak which initially aided an injury-hit Dons side and allowed the 33-year-old to establish himself in the EFL, but it was also one that played a part in his decision to leave Milton Keynes for South East London in January 2014.

“I went there to play centre midfield but in pre-season, two of the centre-halves got injured. I'd played two or three games at centre-half for Fingal and Karl obviously knew about that.

“I started the season there and ended up playing the whole season at centre-half. The following season, I stayed at centre half and ended up winning Player of the Season, as well as Players' Player of the Season.

“At that time, I never really had a problem with it because I just wanted to be playing. I wanted to establish myself so I was just happy to be playing as much football as I was. It suited me too because of the way that we played.

“In the third season, I started to feel as though I wasn't being utilised the way I thought I should be. I only had six months left of my contract and I could have ended up leaving on a free at the end of the season so they accepted two bids for me in January.

“They accepted two bids - one from Millwall and one from Brighton and I chose Millwall and part of the reason for that, was because they were going to give me the opportunity to play centre-mid again.”

Click HERE to listen to the full interview with Shaun Williams on Irish Football Fan TV.


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