Tottenham ace Williams eyes Arsenal payback and reflects on juggling Champions League with being a plasterer

RACHEL WILLIAMS is probably the only WSL ace who has had to choose between doing a plastering job or playing in the Champions League.

And the genial Tottenham midfielder – who hopes to defeat Arsenal later – laughed as she recalled that moment as a Birmingham player in 2012.

The Brum side, who were then coached by current Guiseley gaffer Marcus Bignot, had qualified for the contest for the first time in their history earning themselves a two-legged clash with Italian club Hellas Verona.

Williams, 33, told SunSport: “Back then you didn’t get paid enough (as a player).

“I remember going up to Marcus and saying ‘I can't go to Verona because I’m away for three days. I've got a big (plastering) job on'.

And he said ‘what if I could pay you to come away?' I asked my boss who at the time said to me, 'I can't really lose my best plasterer Rach'.

“We managed to come to an agreement where I missed a couple of nights of training so I could get the (plastering) job done and then go to this Champions League game.

“Some days I used to do my plastering work from six in the morning until three or four in the afternoon and then train like a beast.

“A lot of the physical work from plastering actually helped me with stuff that I would do in the gym.

“But you can't get away with that now with all those little nutrition changes you have to make as a full-time player.

"Now you're professional, you're just an absolute athlete.

"I think that's a credit to all the previous girls and teams that have come before us, that have led the way.”

Williams, who was born in Leicester and manages a plastering business with her partner, has entered her second season as a Tottenham player following her 2020 move to the club from Birmingham City.

This afternoon Spurs, who are currently third, will go with the Gunners at The Hive in the first of six Women’s Football Weekend clashes.

The match will see Tottenham led by their boss Rehanne Skinner, who first spotted Williams’ talents during a trial at Leicester City’s Centre of Excellence when she was 13.

Williams added: “Rehanne saw me playing in the area I grew up in. She was more like a big sister type coach.

“I've been around the league a long time, so she knows my attributes and that I can be a bit like all guns blazing, chasing everything down.

“She's just slowed me down a bit and taught me the game management side of things.

“The relationship we have now is very much that her door is always open.”

Williams has come a long way since those early years where her raw talent as a powerhouse midfielder with an eye for goal was nurtured by Skinner, who is a former England and Arsenal assistant manager.

In 2004 Williams, began her senior playing career at Leicester City Women with two seasons at Doncaster Rovers Belles breaking up her spell as a Foxes player.

And for nine years from 2011, she enjoyed stints at Chelsea, Notts County Ladies and Birmingham City before her 2020 move to Tottenham, who are seen as dark horses for a Champions League spot this term.

The WSL star is part of a group who have played in the division since its creation in 2011.

And she became the league’s top scorer in that historic term netting 14 goals for a Birmingham side narrowly pipped to the title by the Gunners.

This afternoon she hopes to avenge Tottenham's 5-1 FA Cup quarter-finals loss to Jonas Eidevall’s team in September.

We'd heard a few whispers about teams saying we were going to struggle. We have a big point to prove.

Williams, who was the team's only scorer in that encounter, said: “I will reflect on that game and those emotions and the feelings I was feeling,

“I will have those feelings come back to me ready for this game.

“I beat Arsenal a few times (with other clubs) but I think when you come to a club where this is their actual big derby game, you invest in that as well.

“When I took my goal (in the FA Cup) it even surprised me, so I didn't really do a good celebration.

“I'm saving that hopefully for this game. With our hard work and how we started (in the league) and our belief, there’s no reason why we can't cause an upset.

“This season is about us just getting on board with the journey Rehanne wants us on.

“We'd heard a few whispers about teams saying we were going to struggle so we have a big point to prove."

Meanwhile, Arsenal are eager to maintain their unbeaten run in this match which comes in a week in which the FA announced plans to get an average of 6,000 fans attending WSL games.

And Gunners boss, Eidevall, said: “I think our ambitions should be bold and brave in terms of how many people we should try to attract our games.

"I think the product that we have deserves a far wider audience.”


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