“I feel like I could fit this style of play and enjoy my football” | Kian Williams

The total kilometres travelled over the last few years – from Leicester, England to Grenivik and Keflavik in Iceland and now to Winnipeg and all points in between – say so much about Kian Williams.

There’s an element of wanderlust in play, to be sure, but the stamps on his passport also speak of his desire to span the globe to find his best soccer home.

Williams is now a member of Valour FC, having signed with the Canadian Premier League club in December, and having boots on the ground here for a couple of weeks in preparation for the opening of training.

And two days into camp, the 22-year-old English winger is already beaming about his latest adventure.

“It’s good, really good,” Williams told after Day 2 of training camp on Wednesday. “The club here is run professionally; the guys are great, and I feel like I’ve settled in really quickly. The town itself – it’s cold, but I understand the summers are really good and I’m just counting down the days to that like everyone.

“Over the years you learn that wherever you go you’ve got to be happy and settled there to get the best out of your game. I made sure every detail was settled before I got here – we made sure the apartment was set up, for example – because when you’re comfortable you can focus on football.

“This is so professional, and I feel like Phil (Dos Santos, Valour GM and Head Coach) can get the best out of me. The staff, from the physios to the kit man to the social media guys, they’re all good guys and I feel they can get the best out of me and I’m excited to represent them and the club as well.”

Williams is one of many intriguing new faces in Valour camp, as the club has undergone a makeover from the roster that finished fifth, and just out of the playoffs, in both 2021 and 2022.

A product of the Leicester City youth program in his hometown, Williams made the move to Iceland in 2019 and found homes with both Magni Grenivik and Keflavik IF from 2019-22, scoring 16 goals in 66 appearances.

He had been training with Burton Albion in England this offseason, but it was a CPL connection that ultimately brought him to Winnipeg and Valour. Williams, it turns out, had become friends with Atlético Ottawa star Ollie Bassett – the CPL Player of the Year — over the past couple of years, to the point that the two had spent their offseasons training together.

“Four or five years now, we’ve always been in our offseason at similar times, and we’ve always trained together when we’ve been looking to get ready for the new season,” Bassett told last month. “That’s how I know him, he’s from a similar area to me, not too far — 25-30 minutes into Leicester. He’s a top guy, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to do really, really good things for Valour this year.”

“We were training in the offseason together because we were from a similar area,” Williams added. “We kept in touch. We knew of each of other – I think everyone in England who plays professionally knows of each other – and when I saw him playing in Canada and I knew it was his offseason there are a few of us who climbed the fences to train.

“In England,” he added with a grin, “it’s not like this – the pitches are not always as accessible.”

Williams is looking to rediscover his passion for the game again with Valour and in the CPL. He recently lost a friend, which was mentally devastating, and the grind of training and running, running and training had physically exhausted him.

But change can be good. And coming across the pond to Canada is a massive change.

“I want to enjoy my football again. Speaking to Phil and looking at some of the games online I feel like I could fit this style of play and enjoy my football,” said Williams, who shares the same agent as fellow newcomer Pacifique Niyongabire and will also be his roommate this coming season. “That’s the most important thing for me. I feel like if you enjoy your football you’ll do well. Here I can be more creative, and we’ve got a good squad. Hopefully I can help contribute in the final third.

“It’s funny,” he added, “I actually think that for me being abroad and being out of my comfort zone suits me better. In England a lot of teams are playing Route One football (straight ahead from the defensive third toward the front line) and maybe it’s more physically demanding, but here you’ve got the ball and your feet, and you can run at players and I’m excited for that.

“I’m beginning to create relationships with my teammates on the pitch and that’s exciting.”


-Valour’s third session of camp goes Thursday morning from 10-11:30 a.m. at the WSF South.