Paul Williams

Paul Williams is a former central defender who was born in Burton upon Trent on 26th March 1971. He began his career at Derby as a striker. Williams made his debut for the Rams during the 1989/90 season, after a brief loan spell at Lincoln. On 4th May 1991 he scored a hatrick in a 6-2 win over Southampton. Williams scored 13 times for 2nd Division Derby during 1991/92, earning himself six England U21 caps in the process. By 1993 he had been converted into a defender. He helped Derby reach the Division One play-off's in 1993/94, but will have been disappointed with his display in the 2-1 final defeat to Leicester, where he was at fault for one of the goals conceded.

In 1995 Williams signed for Premiership strugglers Coventry City, who were managed by Ron Atkinson. He made his debut on 19th August 1995 in a 3-0 defeat at Newcastle. Williams helped the Sky Blues stay up in his first season at Highfield Road, scoring a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Everton in March. The 1996/97 season also saw Coventry battling against the drop, and once again Williams played his role in a good late run of form, which kept the club up. He scored in a 3-1 win over Chelsea on 9th April 1997, and also in a 2-1 win at Tottenham on the final day of the season. Both results proved crucial; anything less than a win in those games and Coventry would have been relegated.

Williams had a stop-start season during 1997/98, missing playing time through suspension and injury. He was sent off twice in an otherwise successful season for the Sky Blues, which saw the club finish a respectable 11th. After recovering from an injury sustained in a League Cup victory over Southend on 22nd September 1998, Williams returned to help Coventry to a comfortable 15th place finish for 1998/99. During 1999/2000 he scored in a 4-1 win over Newcastle. Williams was part of the Coventry side that was relegated from the Premiership during 2000/01, ending a 34 year run in the top flight. He started the first few matches of Coventry's 2001/02 Division One season, playing his last game for the club on 29th September 2001, a 2-1 win at Gillingham.

In October 2001 Williams signed for Southampton on a free transfer, alongside Highfield Road teammate Paul Telfer. Both players linked up with their former Coventry manager Gordon Strachan, who had just taken over at Saints. Williams was brought in as a replacement for Dean Richards, who had recently joined Tottenham for £8,000,000. Despite his advancing age and disappointing recent form for his previous club, Williams proved a more than adequate replacement for Richards, forming a decent defensive partnership with Claus Lundekvam. After making his debut in a 2-1 loss at Fulham on 27th October 2001, Williams played a key role in Southampton's rise up the table. The club recovered from a difficult start to finish 11th, thanks in part to some good defensive displays.

Williams found his opportunities limited during 2002/03 as the impressive Michael Svensson was signed. The rare occasions he was called upon, he was usually reliable however, except perhaps on 14th September 2002 when he was red carded in a 1-0 defeat at West Brom. He made his final appearance for the club on 7th May 2003 in a 6-1 hammering at Arsenal. Williams was an unused substitute in the 1-0 FA Cup final loss against Arsenal on 17th May 2003.

Williams signed for Stoke City in August 2003 on a free transfer. He had an unremarkable stay at The Britannia, and was dropped from the side a few months after joining. He left the club in early 2005, having not made a single appearance during 2004/05.

Williams moved to the US in 2005, and had a short spell with the Richmond Kickers before hanging up his boots for good.

In 2006 Williams started his coaching career with USL Premier Development League outfit Fredericksburg Gunners. He took the club to a 5th place finish in 2007, before leaving to return to England. In October 2009 Williams joined Aldershot in a caretaker capacity, assisting former teammate Jason Dodd. In 2010 he became first team coach at 'Team Solent', Southampton Solent University's men's first team.

Williams returned to Southampton on May 8th 2011, lining up alongside fellow ex Saints players in an all star exhibition. Judging by his large waistline, it's fair to say Williams hasn't been spending too much time in the gym since his playing days ended. On 11th July 2011 he was appointed Youth Development Coach at the club, a role which involves managing the Under 13s side, assisting with the Under 18s and coaching a number of specialist sessions across the Under 14 and Under 18 range.