Meet the former A-League fullback set to represent India

0:00

Australian defender Aryn Williams is closing in on acquiring an Indian passport making him eligible to represent the Indian national team.

Born and raised in Perth, Williams is eligible to play for four countries in Australia, England, Wales and India through his parents’ heritage.

His father was born in Kent, while his mother’s family hails from Mumbai.

Already his older brother Rhys is a Socceroo, capped 14 times for the green and gold, who also made 10 appearances for the Welsh Under-21s.

His twin brother Ryan, currently on the books of English Championship club Rotherham United, has played for both the Young Socceroos and Olyroos in the past.

Now Aryn is closing in on his own international debut as he enters his second season with I-League oufit Neroca.

The 25-year-old, who spent two years with Perth Glory, is out to break into the Blue Tigers’ set-up who are currently ranked 97th in the world.

“It’s definitely a dream I’m striving towards and hopefully within the next couple of month I will be able to acquire my Indian passport and represent the Indian national team,” he told The World Game.

“My agent has been in brief contact with staff from the national team. Nothing is set in stone but hopefully I can get an opportunity to prove myself worth enough to play for the Indian national team.”

Williams came through the junior ranks at ECU Joondalup in Perth before spending three years with the academy of English Premier League club Burnley.

He returned to Australia in 2014 and has had spells in the A-League and in the NPL with Floreat Athena and Preston Lions. But last year he headed back overseas to join newly promoted Neroca.

After starring as a defensive midfielder, Williams has returned to the Imphal-based club for a second campaign.

“I’m really enjoying it to be honest,” he said. “When I left at the end of last season I was already looking forward to coming back to India. It was an easy decision to come back.

“I know the back room staff really well and most of the players stayed on from last season so when they offered me a new deal I was very happy to take it.

“[But] It’s a tough league and sometimes difficult conditions. One week it’s 15 degrees in the middle of the mountains in the North East of India and the next week you’re playing beach-side in Goa at 35 degrees, so it’s difficult in that aspect.

“The league is definitely improving and quality foreign players are coming over for this season so it’s turning out to be an exciting season ahead.”

Williams is currently the only Australian in the I-League, but former Socceroos Erik Paartalu and Tim Cahill are playing in the rival Indian Super League.

The centre-back said Cahill has made a solid impact in India.

“Tim has been great,” he said. “Everyone loves him and he’s doing great things for Jamshedpur and Indian football on and off the pitch and it’s great to see him get on the score sheet in the last round.”

Neroca won the I-League’s second division in 2017 to secure promotion, and then finished second on the table in the top flight last season.

Williams explains that Imphal, the capital centre of the state of Manipur and with a population of over 400,000, is dominated by football and not cricket.

“Neroca is great, it’s like a big family and they’ve made me and my partner, Kate, so welcome here,” he said.

“The people are so friendly and the fans are brilliant as well. Imphal is a quiet city but I have enjoyed it so far and it’s a great place for sight-seeing, with waterfalls and temples.

“It’s football-mad but a lot of people participate in Olympic style sports events as well. Football is definitely the number one sport here in the North East and when our stadium is full to the max with our fans it’s a great thing to see.”

This campaign the Orange Brigade have made a slow start to the I-League and are currently bottom after a draw and a loss after two rounds.

Despite that, Williams and the club are aiming high, with the league winner getting a spot in the AFC Champions League qualifiers.

“Our goal this season is to finish as high as possible and we’ve given ourselves a top four finish goal and I think that is pretty realistic to be honest,” the defender said.

“Hopefully we can do one better then last season and finish on top of the table.”