Interview: Millwall Defender Gives Us An Insight To His Footballing Career

Ask any young boy what he wants to do when he is older and the chances are he will tell you about how he dreams about becoming a footballer. Despite the huge number of hopefuls trying to carve a career in the beautiful game, a tiny percentage are actually presented with the chance of playing football for a living. 

That didn’t stop Millwall defender Will De Havilland following his childhood ambition, though, and after being released from Rushden and Coventry as a child he is now plying his trade in the ranks of Championship side Millwall. 

The 18-year-old has been heavily involved with the U21 set-up at the Den and has been kind enough to give us an insight into his journey as a young football player.

Firstly Will, tell us when you started playing football and a bit about your playing career to date.

I started playing as soon as I could. When I was in a kid I was involved with all the school teams and then as soon as I could I joined a local team – an under 7s team. In the first season or two I was spotted by the local centre of excellences which were, at that time, Cambridge and Rushden, so for a couple of years I was training with Rushden before I was released at 11.

I went on a tour with them to Denmark, though, for a tournament so I went along to that before they offered me a new deal. But because they released me it meant that I could go to another club.

 I trialled with Coventry and Peterborough who both offered a contract as well, so I summed up my options and figured Coventry would be best, so I went there. I was there from when I was 12 to about 16 – just before the scholar, but I didn’t get one.

I then went on trial to Fulham  which is where the Millwall scout saw me. I played a couple of games for Millwall, got offered a scholarship – which I completed – and now I’m in the first year of my professional contract.

What’s the inspiration behind you chasing a career in football?

It’s mostly the joy of it but I probably owe it to my dad for getting me into it and pushing me – my mum and my dad. My dad was very loyal. He took me to training three times a week, even at Coventry which meant driving an hour there and an hour back, alongside his work. He was really committed to seeing me make it, so I owe a lot to him.

You mentioned that you are in your first year of your professional contract at Millwall, how has the jump from youth games been to the U21 side where you’re currently playing?

Towards the later stages of my second year as a scholar I was involved with the U21 games so the actual matches are something I’ve been used to for about half a year, so there’s been not much to adjust to.

But the training regimes are different. Now we have our own gym and training schedules to follow and a lot more work goes into our training as they have more resources. Stuff like heart-rate monitors and the gym instructor can figure out how a session will suit my individual needs.

 You’ve been able to play alongside the likes of Liam Trotter this season as he made his way back from injury, and also against Marouane Chamakh when you played Crystal Palace earlier in the season, how much does that benefit you?

I really enjoy when I know someone like Chamakh will be up against me, or any professional player who has played a lot of league games, because I know it will be a challenge. That’s what I need. I need the experience of playing against top players and I really enjoy it.

Playing with the likes of Liam Trotter really helps out because thorough the game he’s always advising me. He’s played hundreds of games so I really benefit from him being there.

Tell us a bit about how you like to play – are you a ball-playing centre-back or a no-nonsense kind of guy?

When I arrived at the club I was a centre midfielder, so I like to get on the ball and play it. Then the coach saw me more of a centre-back, so I am a bit of a ball-playing centre-back. I also like to go in hard but fair – I’m committed to getting in the way and I’ll never bottle a challenge,  which is what I think the coach saw in me. So a bit of both!

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given that you could pass down to someone attempting to follow in your foot steps?

Be composed when you get the ball. Sometimes when the younger players step up and play with the older players it can be hard as you can be worried about giving the ball away. But when you’re playing with the likes of Liam Trotter he advises you to be calm on the ball and what sort of pass would suit the game. So if the opposition are pressing high up the pitch he might advise you to play a ball over the top or try a diagonal pass.

Your U21 season has started well, but what are your aims as a side this campaign?

We’ve played three league games and won our first two against Crystal Palace and Swansea, who are both very good sides, and then we lost our third game against Bristol City 3-2.

We want to compete in every game – we’re looking to win. We want to be up there at the top. There’s only 11 teams in the league but they’re all good sides, so we want to compete.

And what about individually?

Personally I need to establish myself in the U21 and get the experience of playing there. Then I’d like to get out on loan. I’m really keen to get out and play men’s football, even if it’s Conference or Conference South. I want to go and get a feel about what it’s about and how it feels to play in a competitive.

When other clubs hear about you, if you tell them that you’ve played U21s all year, although it’s a good league they want to hear if you’ve played competitive football and if you can handle big crowds.

Following on from that, where do you see yourself in five years time?

In five years I want to be at the top of my game and in the Premier League. That’s my ultimate goal. I want to achieve that in five years.

And last question, what do you get up to outside of football?

I’m from Cambridge but I’m in digs in London at the moment so there’s not a lot to do. All my friends and my girlfriend are in Cambridge, but I do get home every weekend. I have my girlfriend over a lot of the time and take her for a meal or go and catch up with my mates. I really cherish the weekends!

This interview was organised by The British Sports Museum the Number One Football Memorabilia Company in the UK. Please visit