Age: 21 years old.
Position: Centre Back
Current Club: Aberystwyth Town
Former Clubs: Causeway United, Worcester Academy Stourport Swifts and Stourbridge youth.
IT’S not easy for a defender who’s only 21 to come into the WPL and slot right into a first team right away, but Aber’s Ryan Wollacott did just that during 2016/17.
He became the heart and soul of their back four and impressed consistently throughout the seasons with some strong performances. His display in the 0-0 draw with Llandudno at Park Avenue in October was particular highlight.
By the end of the season, Wollacott had played 30 times in the WPL and had become ever present in the Black and Green’s starting eleven.
He played a pivotal role in keeping his side out of the relegation zone towards the end of the season and his importance to the club was highlighted even further when he was handed an 18 month contract extension back in January.
Speaking to AFEFootballNews, the upcoming Welsh Prem star talks of playing against some familiar English League faces and what he hopes both he an Aberystwyth can achieve this season …
AFE: Hi Ryan. First question for you … What made you want to become a footballer? and who was your idol when growing up?
RW: Hi mate. Obviously, I wouldn’t class myself as an actual footballer because playing for Aber means it’s only a part time job but of course I’d love to be full time one day!
I’ve been brought up playing football from the age of around seven and always went to Aston Villa matches during those times.
As for my idol, I would say Steven Gerrard, as I loved the passion he had when playing for Liverpool.
AFE: Who’s the best player you’ve played alongside and why?
RW: I would say of late, it has to be Daniel Alfei who played in defence with me last year. You could tell he was a class player and had played at a higher standard, in fact I think he could still play football league easily.
I’d also say that Nathan Redmond was special when I was with him at Birmingham as a youngster. He was obviously very good at what he did, because he’s gone on to great things in the Premier League.
AFE: what about the best player you’ve come up against?
RW: I would have to say two wingers again from when I was younger.
I played against Aston Villa and they had two players called Callum Robinson and Jordan Graham who are both in the Championship with Preston and Wolves nowadays.
In terms of the WPL, I would say Scott Quigley (TNS) is a very tough player to come up against.
AFE: Most memorable match/highlight of your career so far?
RW: Possibly a good Fa cup run that I had with Stourport swifts about two years ago.
If I have to go for a Welsh Prem moment then I’ll say the 4-0 win at home to Rhyl last season to secure our WPL status was a really good feeling. That was a massive relief to all of us!
AFE: Having played in both, what would you say are the biggest differences between playing in the English leagues and Welsh Prem?
RW: I would say that the Welsh Prem is a better standard than the Midland League I was playing in.
However, not sure what English league matches the Welsh Prem in terms of playing standard, possibly Conference North?
AFE: What’s the main thing you learnt from your debut season in Wales? Did it make you better as a player?
RW: Yeah, I think its definitly made me improve as a player.
I feel like my first season playing with Aber went well, but this season I really want to crack on and of course do better as a team and hopefully be stronger as a player as a lot of the forwards in this league are very physical players.
AFE: What are you hoping to achieve with Aber this season?
RW: I think our main aim has to be to try and be in that top six when it comes to the split at the end of phase one.
If we can do that, then we would be in a good position and then second half of the season we can concentrate on just pushing on and finish as high up the table as possible.
Cheers for chatting to AFEFootballNews Ryan. Here’s hoping that you and the rest of the Aber squad will enjoy a decent campaign this season!