The former Manchester City goalkeeper and retiring head of City in the Community charity on his playing career, tackling racism and his legacy

Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

Maine Road, 14 March 1981: Alex Williams has just enjoyed a triumphant man‑of-the‑match debut as Manchester City’s goalkeeper in a 2-1 win over West Brom when he experiences a shock.

Walking into the players’ lounge the 19-year-old sees his parents, Vie and Cliff, who, until this spring day, have never before watched him play football. “The first time I knew they were at the game was then,” he says. “When they arrived, they couldn’t get in because obviously I didn’t know they were coming, so I didn’t leave tickets. They basically knocked on the front door and said: ‘We’re Alex Williams’s parents. Can we come in?’


“Somebody got a message back to Joe Corrigan who wasn’t playing because I was, and Joe got them in.”

Corrigan, injured that day, was City’s first-choice keeper. Williams was living the classic tale of the local lad who dreamed of playing for his boyhood club, an achievement even more impressive due to modest beginnings.


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