MIKE Williamson got to the top level with blood, sweat and tears – and the defender won’t give up his hard-fought shirt without a fight.
Williamson finally made his Premier League debut this season with Newcastle United.
The 27-year-old had spent his first-team career outside the division, including spells at lowly Torquay United and Wycombe Wanderers.
Williamson candidly admits there were “questions marks” over his ability to play in the Premier League given that he didn’t make a single appearance for Portsmouth in a frustrating few months at Fratton Park last season.
However, he is confident he’s come up with the right answers over the past seven months.
And having battled his way to the top, Williamson (right) – who has kept Steven Taylor out of the side in recent weeks – is determined to play every minute he can for the club which rescued him in January last year.
“My priority when I first came here was to prove myself at this level and standard,” Williamson said.
“There were a lot of question marks over my head, and whether I could prove myself and play week-in, week-out at Premiership level.
“That was my aim, and I think I’ve answered a lot of my critics. Personally, I’m just starting really. I want to crack on. Competition’s fierce, especially, in the back four, and I want to play as many games as I can this season.
“I’ll collect my thoughts at the end of the season.”
Williamson’s career started on the south coast at Torquay, where he grew up after leaving his hometown Stoke.
And the imposing centre-half – who has partnered Argentina international Fabricio Coloccini at the back for much of the season – credits his rounded football education for making him the player he is today.
Williamson went on: “I’ve had a little taste of everything.
“I started off at Torquay, and then I was at Southampton when they were a Premiership club.
“I saw how things were run and the talent, grit and hard work that are put in. I went to Wycombe and started my own little journey.
“It’s been thoroughly enjoyable – I wouldn’t change anything for the world. I just want to carry on at this level as long as I can.
“They say centre-halves mature in their positions later, and I’m just enjoying my football at the minute and looking forward to every challenge.
“Everyone wants to play in the Premier League – it’s what dreams are made of – and I’m just thankful it’s come together and I’m achieving a lot of my goals.”
Williamson faces renewed competition for a place from Steven Taylor, whose season has been beset by injury. Taylor is pushing for a recall when Newcastle take on Wolves at St James’s Park on Saturday.