Big Interview: Ex-Morecambe man Ryan Williams on plying his trade in Canada and Brazil
From Morecambe to one of murder capitals of the world? It's not a route trodden by many lower league footballers.
But after leaving the Globe Arena back in 2015 Ryan Williams’ first surprise move took him to the Championship with Brentford.
While that may have caught some Shrimps fans off-guard it was nothing compared to going on to play for, first, the Ottawa Fury in Canada, then Paysandu in Belem, Brazil.
The most recent move is not one that worked out though, and means the 27-year-old midfielder is now back home on the Wirral looking for a new challenge, problems off the field rather than on it having ended his stay in South America early.
“I’d grown so much as a player and a person in Canada I thought, ‘Why not take yourself out of your comfort zone again’?,” Williams said.
“But it was so far out of my comfort zone I thought I’d never get back.
“The football was of a really good standard, probably the closest I’ve had to Brentford.
“But organisationally they were still developing. The day before my first game I got pulled in and told that they couldn’t register me due to some problems with a visa. I had to go to Argentina in the end to get it sorted.
“I didn’t end up playing my first game until the end of April and I’d been there for nearly three months.
“I was really frustrated and living situation there wasn’t great.
“It’s one of the murder capitals of the world – there are about 50 murders a week. I couldn’t really leave the house and I don’t mind making sacrifices for football but it’s only worth it if you’re playing games.
“I was even about to go and talk to the club when they announced I’d signed a new deal until the end of the season.
“They really liked me but hadn’t even spoken to me about it!
“That threw a spanner in the works but I went in and was offered more money but that was never what it was about and they agreed I could go home.”
Playing just one game for the second-tier side was in stark contrast to a really successful stint in Canada.
Williams left the Shrimps in the summer of 2015 at the end of his contract, the free-kick specialist having had an inconsistent season by his own admission. He then had short stints at Brentford, working under three managers including Dean Smith, and Inverness Caledonian Thistle, before a call out of the blue from the son of a Liverpool legend started his world tour.
“I nearly went to Portugal but the club I was heading to ended up signing two lads on loan from Porto,” said Williams, who impressed in the North American Soccer League during 18 months with Ottawa.
“That fell through and I was sitting there in the second week of July wondering what was going to happen.
“Then I got a call from Paul Dalglish.
“Because he was a Scouser I made him FaceTime me to make sure it wasn’t one my mates winding me up!
“He was great for me. The first six months there were some of the happiest times of my career.
“I didn’t know a lot about the game out there but the standard was so much better than I was expecting.
“I honestly think some sides would be better than League Two teams. It took time to adapt but once I got settled in I had a fantastic time and finished the season as the fans’ player of the year.”
There had been interest at one point from New York Cosmos but after Dalglish left to be replaced by former Bundesliga and La Liga player Julian de Guzman, Williams’ former Fury captain, the club changed direction.
That led to the opportunity in Brazil which ultimately fell flat.
It is all a far cry from his time at Morecambe, with the creative midfielder always thankful to manager Jim Bentley and assistant Ken McKenna for the risk they took in bringing him in.
The Shrimps picked Williams up in the summer of 2012 after he had impressed for Rhyl in the Welsh Premier League with 16 goals from midfield.
Problems with international clearance however meant he could not make his debut until the following January.
“I always be eternally grateful to Jim and Kenny for giving me the opportunity to play professional football,” said Williams.
“I was a 21-year-old lad playing in non-league.
“I remember going in there. I was still a young pup and it was a big step up but the lads were great.
“There were a lot of hiccups when it came to me signing so I had to wait until January.
“Jim was fantastic though and true to his word. As soon as I was able to sign, he signed me.
“You come across a lot of people in football who aren’t genuine but Jim Bentley is a first-class man.
“I look back on my time at Morecambe as a fantastic time for me.
“The club had a real family-feel which made the transition much easier for me.
“The fans were always great with me too and supported me right from the start.
“They are very, very fond memories.”
After stints in Canada and Brazil the question now is where next for Williams?
He returned to England at the end of June and it could be another lengthy trip to his next destination.
“I’ve had a few calls over the last couple of weeks,” said a player who came through the ranks at Chester.
“One was about going back to North America, one was a Czech league which I didn’t fancy and then there was another about playing out in the Emirates.
“I’ve been speaking with a League Two club as well.
“It depends who fires first and puts a contract in front of me so I can get back playing again. It’s been an amazing ride so far.”