Jonathan Williams on life at Crystal Palace, trust in Ian Holloway and being in front of the Sky cameras
Jonathan Williams is at that age where the present of a magnum of bubbly is unlikely to remain unopened for long, but the Crystal Palace wonderkid is treasuring one such gift.
The 19-year-old was presented with the tempting gift in front of the Sky cameras last week by team-mate Kevin Phillips as reward for his man of the match display against Watford.
Pundits credited Williams, back nine weeks from a hamstring injury, with turning Watford’s 2-0 Championship lead into a valuable 2-2 draw.
The last Palace player to receive such plaudits signed for Manchester United in January, but Williams, who is being drip-fed into the first team by boss Ian Holloway, only ever wanted to play for Palace.
And it is clear that it will take more than the fizz from a bottle to turn his head.
“I’ve not opened the bottle so I’ve no idea what’s actually in it. I’ve not drunk it and I don’t intend to, I will treasure it for a long time because it was a special thing,” Williams said.
“It was a surreal moment being presented with it by Kevin, and I didn’t really think too much about it until I watched it back later with my family, it was all a bit of a blur at the time.
“It is unbelievable for me and Kevin, him still playing at 39 and me coming through at 19. There are not many players like Kevin who are still doing the business at 39.
“Even in training he is razor sharp, it is incredible to be playing with a player like Kevin. His movement is Premier League standard. There is no doubt about it. You can tell he has been at the top and it is great to have him at Palace.”
“People say I turned the Watford, and if that’s true, then it is nice to hear. Normally if you’re on the bench, you come on to make an impact and if I can continue to do that I’ll be happy.”
Williams has struggled with a stop-start season after his return from a broken leg suffered while on international duty with Wales was short-lived after he picked up a hamstring injury.
However, despite being on the sidelines during the fanfare of Ian Holloway’s appointment, the mercurial winger is in positive mood and places his future entirely in Hollway’s hands.
“It’s been disappointing because Ian Holloway came along when I was injured and I was gutted because I was really excited about playing for him.
“But since being fit, it has been great and I trust him completely with how he has been bringing me back into the team.
“I am looking forward to playing more, whether that is coming off the bench or starting games, it doesn’t bother me.”
And rather than kick the walls with frustration while his team-mates embarked on the unbeaten run earlier in the season, Williams could take time out to appreciate the football being played.
“It has been a pleasure to watch the lads. I have been involved in some of the run and it was great – getting injured was frustrating but to watch the lads carry on that run was exciting.
“We’ve had our little wobble where we were throwing away points, but that happens to every team. I was excited to come back because I wanted to be a part of it.”
Debut time: Jonathan Williams took his senior bow for the Eagles in August 2011 as a sub in the 2-1 win over Coventry City SP59555
Another young player that has caught the will be playing at Old Trafford next season, but Williams is hoping his chance in the top flight comes in an Eagles shirt.
“I love playing for Palace and that is all I ever wanted to do ever since I was playing in the academy,” he said.
“To have made more than 35 appearances in the first team is a great experience, it has been an honour for the first team at Selhurst Park – I just want to play well, and focus on the next game.
“I cannot predict what will happen in the future, what will be, will be, but hopefully we will be in the Premier League – if not this year, then next year.”