It’s always tricky when a Preston-born player achieves success elsewhere.
On the one hand, it’s galling to see North End miss out on a homegrown talent, especially at a time when the youth setup isn’t producing many first-team players.
On the other, I’m a proud Prestonian and seeing people from my city thrive is a source of pride – and that goes for Liverpool defender Rhys Williams right now.
Williams, 19, was born in Preston but joined the Liverpool academy at the age of just 10, and won the FA Youth Cup last year.
In August 2019, Williams was sent out on loan to non-league Kidderminster Harriers, so he likely wouldn’t have expected to be starting alongside Virgil van Dijk just over a year later.
That’s exactly what happened though. Williams played in central defence with Van Dijk against Lincoln City last month, and then on an even bigger stage against Arsenal last week.
The praise has been pouring in for Williams ever since, with Jurgen Klopp claiming that he performed ‘exceptionally well’ at Anfield.
On Monday, Williams’ rapid progression took another step in the right direction, as he was called up by the England Under-21’s for the first time ahead of games against Andorra and Turkey.
A year ago, Williams was playing non-league football. Now, he’s being praised by Klopp, playing alongside Van Dijk and being spotted by England.
That’s outstanding from the teenager, who has never hidden his love for North End; if you go to his Twitter timeline, he is always retweeting and quote tweeting Preston’s result and moments, including one tweet backing Ben Pearson as a better player than Kalvin Phillips.
Williams’ rise may not be happening in a Preston shirt, but we can’t help but be proud of him nonetheless – and who knows, maybe Williams will end up at North End one day, just like Adam Nowland did having taken a longer path to turning out for his boyhood club.