Player of the Day: Darren Williams

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Former defender in profile.

Darren Williams made 239 appearances in his seven years with Sunderland after joining the Black Cats from York City.

Middlesbrough-born Williams made 27 appearances in all competitions for the Minstermen before moving to Wearside in October 1996 for £50,000.

The general consensus was that 19-year-old Darren would have to wait for his first-team opportunity, though, much to everyone’s delight, he had established himself in the team by the end of the season.

He scored on just his third appearance for the club in a 1-1 draw with Leicester City before adding his second goal for the Black Cats in a 1-0 victory over his home town club Boro at the Riverside.

The following campaign saw Darren add 43 appearances to his Black Cats tally as Peter Reid’s side suffered play-off heartbreak at Wembley against Charlton Athletic.

He made 30 appearances during the 1998-99 Division One-winning season but injuries would prevent a long run in the team. However, Williams was rewarded with a new contract and also England under-21 recognition.

By the time of Sunderland’s return to the top flight Darren had fallen slightly down the pecking order and, though he made 28 appearances as Reid’s side finished seventh, he started only 16 of those games.

Williams edged in front of Darren Holloway in Reid’s plans in the 2000-01 season and made 37 appearances as the Black Cats repeated their seventh-place finish of the previous campaign.

Sunderland spent another season in the top flight before their relegation in 2003 with Williams a regular throughout this period.

He was ever-present during the 2003-04 campaign under Mick McCarthy as the Black Cats lost in the semi-finals of the play-offs to Crystal Palace.

Williams left to join Cardiff in 2005 after an initial loan spell with the Bluebirds before spells with Hartlepool, Bradford City and Dundee followed.

He is now in his second year as manager of Whitby Town in the EvoStik Northern Premier Division after taking over from Tommy Cassidy.