Meet Tayo Williams, the jaw-dropping Kenyan talent on trial at Bristol City

Tayo Williams (centre) is a Kenyan exciting prospect who has been on trial with English side Bristol City. Photo Credit || Soka Talent Acadamey

STARS ABROAD Meet Tayo Williams, the jaw-dropping Kenyan talent on trial at Bristol City

Mark Kinyanjui 06:23 - 20.09.2023

After growing up in Kenya and dazzling with his football skills, the exciting 14-year-old attacking midfielder managed to earn a trial at English club Bristol City.

Tayo Willams is an exciting young prospect with hopes of making it big in football.

Born in the UK to a Kenyan father and a British mother, Tayo, and his family moved to Kenya when he was two years old, before spending the next 12 years of his life in the country.

It was in Kenya where he discovered his love for football, playing for various academies before moving back to the UK late last year in the quest to pursue his dream of making it.

At the time of this interview, Williams was just off trials with Championship side Bristol City, a team renowned for refining and producing top academy prospects, with Bournemouth’s Alex Scott-who won the Championship Young Player of the Year last season- a prime example of their investment.

Bristol also have Zack Vyner, an English defender with Kenyan roots on their books.

Pulse Sports' Mark Kinyanjui caught up with the exciting young prospect, and here is what he had to say:

What made you love football?

Tayo: When I was a kid, we lived in a house in the middle of a community estate. My mum would buy me a ball and I would play with the soldiers and other kids sometimes, and that is how I started playing football

How did your journey in football start?

Tayo: I started playing when I was around three or four, then at five I was playing with other kids and by the time I turned six, I was playing with Soccer Talent.

Where were you raised?

Tayo: I was born in the UK, but moved to Kenya when I was two. I returned to the UK last year (2022) on boxing day.

Tell us about your football journey in Kenya?

Tayo: I joined Soccer Talent and then played for two, or three years before joining Express. At Express, I went to a Barcelona camp in Kenya. They wanted me to join but it was a bit too expensive. They offered to reduce the amount but it was still too much, so I remained at Express before going back to Soccer Talent.

Tayo Williams with Soka Talent Acadamey. Photo Credit: Soka Talent

How did the opportunity to go to Bristol City for trials arise?

Tayo: When I returned to the UK, I joined a team called Tuffley Rovers, which is a grassroots team. We were at a tournament then when I was playing, I was running up and down the pitch, taking on everyone, assisting, and scoring goals then at the end, my coach told me that ‘there is a guy at Bristol who wants you to go for trials and everything’ and then gave us his card. So he spoke to my parents and then it was arranged.

How has trials at Bristol been like?

Tayo: It has been a two-week trial, training on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday and then they have games on Saturday but we don’t cause we have trials.

What have you observed about Bristol City that is different from other acadamies you have trained with?

Tayo: The standards are really high. Their pitches are professional pitches and the coaches are very good. They have gyms, the coaches are very good. Everything works well, it is just very professional.

Tell us about how things are run on a typical day in a UK academy.

Tayo: The scholarship will come if I am 16 and they start paying me. They make us do certain drills and everything. On the first day, they measured our weight and height. They put things on our bodies to see how high we can jump and go and things like that.

Do you think you did well to be taken in?

Tayo: I think I did well but some days I was not really playing that well cause my body was really knackered because normally I do not do gym work and football at the same time. Three times a week is alot and it is usually from 5:30 to 8:30 PM, but I think I did well.

Tell us the routine you went through.

Tayo: The first day we were given a case so we blend in and do not stand out then three scouts would come and watch us to see how good we actually were and our levels compared to Bristol City players. On arrival you come, go change and at 5:30 PM, you go to the gym, rest for like 10 minutes, wear your boots, and then go to the pitch, warm up and everything, do some stretches, and then get on to some very physical training.

How is the training schedule in a typical week at Bristol City?

Tayo: Mondays is normally training on the opposition, then at the end we play a match. Tuesdays is about working on your weaknesses and Thursdays are not too heavy because of games on Saturday, so you work on what you are not very good at.

Photo credit: Tayo Williams

Did you get to play a game?

Tayo: I have not played against any team but they played against Chelsea and they lost though. I cannot play for them till I am signed on.

If signed, how long do you see yourself training with them before you turn professional?

Tayo: I do not really know but it goes with the academic schedule, that is how it works. Then when I am sixteen, they will start paying you, but it would take like a year.

What position do you play?

Tayo: I am an attacking midfielder but I can play everywhere apart from keeper but my best positions are attacking mid, central mid, and the wings.

Who are your footballing role models?

Tayo: Cristiano Ronaldo. But I look up to Luca Modric and Kevin De Bruyne as well.

What are your biggest strengths?

Tayo: My physicality, my finishing, my passing and my vision.

What do you think is a weakness you need to work on about your game?

Tayo: My defending and tracking back.

What are your aspirations in football?

Tayo: I just want to become a professional.

Do you have any contingency plans should Bristol not work out?

Tayo: If it does not work out, I will keep trying, I will go for another trial if this does not work out, they are called Forest Green Rovers.

You said you moved back to the UK last year having spent 12 years back in Kenya. Was it challenging to adapt to the new surroundings?

Tayo: At first, it was really hard because it was freezing on some days, on others, it was snowy altogether and you have to wear you sweaters everywhere. I have played on days when it was raining. The pitches are not the best in such situations and it is also freezing and snowing. But when it is foggy, it is the worst because you cannot see anything.

What do you think Kenya can do to match up to the standards that you have witnessed about football in the UK?

Tayo: Kenya can do well in football if it actually invests into it. I have played against many Kenyan players who are academy level but did not get the opportunity in Kenya like in the UK to become professional. The country just needs to invest more into football.

What has been the biggest challenge about being a footballer at 14?

Tayo: Most players in this country get into an academy when they are 10 or 11 then they build them to become good players and fit their playing style. That has been one of the biggest problems I have faced.

Give us one problem related to this you have faced first hand?

Tayo: When I went for trials at Aston Villa, most of them were 11 and below. They wanted them younger so that they could mold them into fitting their playing style.

Why did it not work out at Aston Villa?

Tayo: The Aston Villa one was meant for under-14s. On their advertisement, it said under 14s, so I thought it was for players who were 15 and 14, but upon getting there, I was told I was too old but was told to try out for the actual Aston Villa u16 side.

If football does not work out, what would you like to pursue?

Tayo: I would like to do sports science or law.

Do you enjoy other hobbies apart from football?

Tayo: I like cycling, kickboxing, boxing, swimming and track racing.

What role has your family played in helping you try to make it as a football player?

Tayo: My parents have played a big role because in Kenya, they paid for my football. I would go for tournaments in Naivasha and Nakuru with Express FC and catering for it was quite expensive. They have brought me to the UK and everything.