In an exclusive end-of-season interview, Mamelodi Sundowns caught up with the exceptional man between the posts, Ronwen Williams, to reflect on his remarkable journey at Chloorkop. It has been a season to remember for Williams, crowned with triumph, records and a sense of profound gratitude. After a remarkable debut season with Bafana Ba Style, Williams reflected on the thrill of clinching the prestigious DStv Premiership title.
“It feels amazing, that’s the reason why I joined Mamelodi Sundowns because they pride themselves in winning and being Champions. It’s an amazing feeling and I am proud of myself for persevering and not giving up, because things were difficult for me, there were lots of doubts but I kept going and kept working, this is just the reward for not giving up.”
“Over the last few years it became a second nature to Sundowns to win the league and to win Cups. I knew coming here wasn’t going to be easy but that it’s possible. If there’s one team that you can be certain to do well and win it’s Mamelodi Sundowns.”
Throughout the season, Williams showcased his incredible skills and dedication, evolving into an indomitable presence in the goal. The Bafana Bafana skipper surpassed former Orlando Pirates’ goalie, Monneb Josephs’ 17 clean sheet record that was achieved in the 2009/10 season. Williams expressed his gratitude to his teammates and everyone at the club for his success, he said:
“It’s a collective, at Sundowns we pride ourselves in team work, there’s no individual that can do it by themselves. We score together, we defend together, it’s credit to each and every player that’s on the field, even to the analysts and technical team for giving us information. We go into the game knowing we have a clear plan as to the opposition’s strengths and weaknesses, we know how to deal with their threats.”
“I was confident in my abilities, and speaking to the technical team as well gave me assurance. They didn’t assure me that I was going to be number one, they said I need to come here and compete and everyone is going to get a fair chance. When I came here I received a warm welcome from the team and it helped me to settle in. I just knew that once I get going and I feel comfortable around the players and understand the work that I need to do, then they will give me the chance and lucky for me they did give me the chance and I grabbed it with both hands.”
Williams’s debut season with The Brazilians has been nothing short of extraordinary. His contributions have been instrumental in securing the DStv Premiership title and making a resounding impact in the CAF Champions League, where the Tshwane giants unexpectedly exited the competition in the semifinals. As the goalkeeper reflects on his achievements, it is evident that his move to Sundowns has elevated his game, allowing him to leave an indelible mark on the history of African football. The 31-year old goalie revealed his favorite moment from the season and how his move to Chloorkop revived his career.
“The main one for me was the signing day. I felt so proud and so happy because I was in a bit of a situation in the last few days, where I wasn’t enjoying football, I was just playing for the sake of playing. The day that I signed it just brought back so much excitement inside of me, I couldn’t wait to get started. I was very happy and being part of the Champions team is amazing.”
“Here at Mamelodi Sundowns the coaching has taken my game to a different level, the way I see the game, the amount of time on clips and hours we spend on the field to perfect these buildup schemes, it’s just testimony to the work that’s being done behind the scenes from the technical team because they send us so many video clips to analyze and see how the top teams and top players are doing it so that we can try and emulate them.”
In addition to Masandawana’s domestic success, the Tshwane giants went unbeaten in their CAF Champions League journey, reaching the semifinals after Wydad Casablanca pulled an upset in Pretoria, winning the Caf Champions League semifinal after a 2-2 draw. Williams took a moment to reflect on the exhilarating matches, the nail-biting and memorable journey in the Champions League.
“We did extremely well, I am very proud of the players and proud of the club. To get knocked out in the semifinal and out of the tournament, being unbeaten I don’t think it’s been done before. It’s a testimony of the work that the team has done, the amount of sacrifices we’ve had to do. It wasn’t easy but we had an amazing run, undefeated, scored so many goals and went away to Cairo and Rabat, [these are] difficult places to go play at and get points or get results.”
“We showed this year that there’s a different side to us and that we can grind results when things are tough. It’s not easy having 40 000 or 50 000 people against you, but we showed character and brotherhood. But the way we went out on set pieces it’s something that we knew was a threat and it’s something that we need to look forward to, discuss it and find ways to be better.”
Looking ahead to the new season, Williams showed confidence and ambition, highlighting his tireless commitment to improve and reach new milestones.
“There is so much to look forward to improving in the next season, I feel there’s lots of goals that I conceded and I think I could’ve done better. My numbers are very high this season, which is very good but it could’ve been much better. There’s maybe 3, 4 or 5 goals that I feel maybe we could’ve done better with better communication.”