After six years of hard work where many hurdles were thrown in his path Iwan Williams is celebrating achieving his dream all over again.
The Anglesey-based football coach has just received confirmation of his UEFA Pro Licence – the highest coaching certification available in the game.
He learned of his success in April, but the official document popped through his letterbox this week.
The 35-year-old could not have been happier after reaching a major life goal.
“I started my C Licence 6 years ago and basically did every badge non-stop,” said Iwan, current director of football at Bangor 1876.
“So it’s been six years worth of constant education. I breathed a bit this morning as it’s been such a commitment.”
Hailing from Penrhyndeudraeth but now living in Llanfairpwll, Iwan played in the Welsh Premier League for Porthmadog, Newtown and Connah’s Quay Nomads and has managed at Caernarfon Town and Llandudno.
Keen to build his coaching career alongside other footballing commitments, Iwan has reached the top of the tree despite experiencing some extremely difficult times in recent years.
His determination to pursue his sporting goals while supporting a young family has been an absolute credit to him. Not all heroes wear capes.
What is a UEFA Pro Licence ?
The UEFA Pro Licence is a coaching licence mandated by UEFA, the official governing body of European football.
Issued by each member state’s football federation and valid for two years, the licence is the highest coaching certification available and generally follows the completion of the UEFA B and A licences.
A UEFA Pro Licence is required for anyone who wishes to manage a football club in the top tier of any European nation’s league system on a permanent basis, i.e. more than 12 weeks (the amount of time an unqualified caretaker manager is allowed to take control).
Such a licence is also required to manage in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.
Who were Iwan’s fellow Pro Licence students?
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder, Jack Collison, the ex West Ham and Wales midfielder who Iwan has gone into business with, current Shrewsbury Town and former Wrexham boss Sam Ricketts, one-time Arsenal and Sweden great Freddie Ljungberg and Swansea City’s assistant first-team coach Alan Tate were all on Iwan’s course.
The group benefited from the input of renowned coaches such as Osian Roberts and Lennie Lawrence.
In addition, they had the opportunity to listen to guest speakers such as Patrick Vieira, Les Ferdinand and David Moyes.
Iwan the player
Grew up through the Porthmadog junior system and represented Llyn and Eifionydd and the North Wales teams.
Was scouted by Wrexham and spent a considerable amount of years progressing through their youth section until eventually being released.
He was then offered a football scholarship in America and spent more than three years in the States before suffering a serious groin injury whilst at Kansas College which meant returning home to recuperate and overcome homesickness.
In the Welsh Premier, Iwan represented Porthmadog and Newtown.
At Cymru Alliance level, he was club captain at Llandudno and also had spells with Connah’s Quay Nomads, Llanfairpwll and Caersws.
Iwan the manager
Out of the blue, Iwan became manager of Caernarfon Town in 2015-16.
He was an instant success, leading the Canaries to the Huws Gray Alliance League and Cup double and was Manager of the Year in his debut season.
Sadly, off the field matters denied the Cofis promotion to the Welsh Premier League.
In Iwan’s second campaign at The Oval, Town retained the league cup whilst also finishing runners-up in the HGA and reaching the semi-finals of the Welsh Cup for the first time in 29 years.
In November 2017, Iwan took over as manager at Welsh Premier Llandudno, where he had played and captained in the past.
Unfortunately, a few months later, family difficulties necessitated a period of compassionate leave and he announced at the end of 2018-19 he would not be returning to Tudno, who had been relegated.
In summer 2019, Iwan joined newly-formed Bangor 1876 as a player, but a serious injury meant having to hang up his boots.
However, in January 2020 he became the club’s new director of football. 1876 won the Gwynedd League in the shortened 2019-20 campaign.
Other football adventures
Iwan now runs a soccer school with former Wales international Jack Collison.
He brought former Wales defender James Collins to Bangor 1876 for a coaching session earlier this year.
Iwan is also an academy scout for Everton and in 2018, he joined forces with Campbell Harrison to manage the Ynys Môn men’s football team.
One of the most memorable experiences of Iwan’s career came when Anglesey won the gold medal at the 2019 Inter-Island Games, beating Guernsey 2-1 in the final at the New Stadium, Holyhead.
• Huws Gray Alliance League winner 2016
• Huws Gray Cup winner 2016, 2017
• HGA Manager of the Year 2016
• Huws Gray Alliance runner-up 2017
• Welsh Cup semi-finalist 2017
• Inter-Island Games winner with Ynys Mon 2019
Football coaching qualifications
• UEFA B Licence
• UEFA A Licence
• UEFA Pro Licence
• Qualified Premier League academy scout