Liverpool players rally as Neco Williams reveals heartache behind World Cup debut

Former Liverpool defender Neco Williams made his World Cup debut on Monday, reflecting on an “extremely tough” moment after some sad news.

With Wales back in the World Cup for the first time in 64 years, Williams was part of the side that started against the United States to kick off their tournament.

The 21-year-old, who left Liverpool for Nottingham Forest in a £17 million deal in the summer, took his place on the left-hand side of a five-man defence.

It was a difficult first half for Rob Page’s side, who went behind through a well-taken Timothy Weah goal, but they battled back after the break to seal a 1-1 draw through Gareth Bale’s penalty.

Williams played 79 minutes before being replaced by Forest team-mate Brennan Johnson, and was visibly distraught after the game.

Taking to Instagram later on Monday, the youngster revealed that his grandfather had passed away the previous day, and that he had spent the buildup grieving.

“Yesterday was the toughest news I’ve ever had to face and that was listening to my mum tell me my grandad passed away last night,” he wrote.

“He’s been everywhere around the world to watch me play football from when I first started playing at Liverpool at six years old.

“He’d never tell me if I had a good game because he always said I have to get better and better each day and that’s why I am where I am now!

“So I dedicate this game all to him because I know he’s up there watching down on me very proudly.

“For everyone please cherish [what] you have with loved ones because you never know when it can get taken away from you.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 22, 2021: Neco Williams and Liverpool players celebrate after Diogo Jota scores the decisive penalty in the shoot-out after the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 5-4 on penalties after a 3-3 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It is a heartbreaking message from Williams, who received support from a host of former Liverpool team-mates, including Jordan Henderson.

“Made him proud my bro! Keep strong,” wrote Harvey Elliott, with Tyler Morton, Leighton Clarkson and Owen Beck all adding: “Stay strong.”

Academy striker Paul Glatzel wrote “my thoughts are with you bro, you definitely made him proud,” which was repeated by the likes of Rhys Williams, Elijah Dixon-Bonner and Jake Cain.

On Twitter, Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler joined hundreds of Liverpool in writing messages of support, too.

You’ll Never Walk Alone, Neco.