Academy coach Dave Williams retires

CHRIS LAKEY Dave Williams, the man who helped nurture some of Norwich City's newest rising stars, has retired as the club's Academy Under-18 coach and technical director.

CHRIS LAKEY

Dave Williams, the man who helped nurture some of Norwich City's newest rising stars, has retired as the club's Academy Under-18 coach and technical director.

Williams, whose three years with the Academy has coincided with the rise of Chris Martin and Michael Spillane from schoolboy duties to the first team ranks, said his farewell to the club's youth team players yesterday and will officially finish next Friday.

The 52-year-old - who was in his second spell at City, has quit because “retirement is wasted on the elderly” - although he will continue his part-time coaching role with the Wales international set-up.

“It has always been my ambition to be free as young as I could be, and to do what I wanted to do,” said Williams. “The opportunity to retire and give that a go is now.

“I feel I am in a position to do that and the time is right - it's the end of the season.

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“There is no hidden agenda, no secrets, it's just the way it has worked out.”

Williams is a former coach of the Manchester United youth team and played a major part in the mergence of such stars as John O'Shea, Wes Brown, Kieran Richardson and Darren Fletcher.

And he leaves City with the likes of Martin, Spillane, Bally Smart and Patrick Bexfield all in the first team picture.

“When I first came here, Chris Martin and Michael Spillane were in their last year of school and were good enough to get involved almost immediately with the Under-18s, so I was able to work with them for the whole of the three years that I have been here,” he said.

“I will look forward to watching their progress the same way as I enjoy seeing the players that were under me at Manchester United playing ion the European Champions League. It has been fantastic to work with them and see how they have progressed.

“I will follow the careers Chris Martin and Michael Spillane and Bally and the others and I believe they all have the opportunity to do well - not just at Norwich but maybe higher up the footballing scale.”

Williams played 74 times for the Canaries, winning a Division Two championship medal in the process, between 1985 and 1987, when he was made player coach and then assistant to Dave Stringer the following year. The partnership led City to two FA Cup semi-finals, but when Stringer quit Williams left too, moving on to Bournemouth, Everton, Leeds and Old Trafford. After two years out of the game he returned to Norwich in May, 2004, as assistant to Ricky Martin.

His role in the Wales set-up sees him looking after the Under-21, Under-19 and Under-17 teams under manager Bryan Flynn, and working alongside Alan Curtis.

“I still have that work with Wales to keep me involved in football,” he said. “But at the age I am, if I have made the wrong decision and I find myself frustrated, it is something I can come back into.

“I have enjoyed my time back at Norwich. It was a new experience, a new challenge. Ricky and I were put in charge to move the Academy on and I think we have done that, with the support of the club and the board. There have been a lot of initiatives and expansion and I believe we have helped move it forward.”

Williams has sold his house in Norwich and is planning to return to the family home in Harrogate - where more golf is the first thing on the agenda.