By RYAN TOLMICH
PHILADELPHIA — The cultures and climates of Jamaica and Montreal are far from similar, but forward Romario Williams did plenty to bridge the gap between the two with a quick hello to his new city.
Williams, the third overall pick in Thursday’s MLS draft, concluded his first speech as a professional player by uttering a quick “Bonjour Montreal!” to his new home. While his display of French may seem like a basic gesture, Williams’ greeting to the Impact represents just the latest stop in a long, winding journey to MLS.
Hailing from Portmore, Jamaica, Williams was exposed to a variety of cultures before making his way to the University of Central Florida to ply his trade in college. His travels have given Willams an appreciation for culture, as the forward is already anticipating immersing himself in Montreal’s lifestyle.
“I’ve been doing French from seventh grade through high school, so I did French for five years. I’m pretty good at it,” Williams told reporters. “I’m not the best right now because I’ve lost a little bit over the years.
“I think being able to speak another language and going into a culturally diverse city like Montreal, I think it will definitely enhance my ability with my French.”
Williams, named after legendary Brazilian striker Romario, scored seven goals for UCF in 2014 to draw the attention of the Impact’s staff. The relationship between the two developed quickly in interviews, as the sides developed a mutual understanding of one another.
“From the minute I stepped into the room and those guys interviewed me, I knew they were interested from the get-go,” Williams said. “I just want to thank them, a big thank you to them, for bringing me to the city of Montreal. I’m ecstatic. I’m just excited to get to work.
“They told me from the get-go that they were high on me and that they were looking for a striker. They said I fit the style of play that they like. From the minute I stepped out of the meeting, my mind told me I was going to end up in Montreal and I felt good about the situation. It’s just remarkable. I just want to thank them for believing in me and trusting my abilities and bringing me here to Montreal.”
Williams understands that there is plenty of work to do in the future. Citing former Impact forward Marco Di Vaio as an inspiration and hopeful mentor, Williams is looking forward to evolving as a person and a player in the coming seasons with the Impact.
However, Williams also stressed how far he’s come to get to this point. From his family in Jamaica who blessed him with a legendary name to his coaches and teammates from UCF that brought the best out of him, Williams knows his development will continue to be a team effort.
“It’s a remarkable feeling. To be drafted in the top five of the draft is a remarkable feeling,” Williams said. “This wouldn’t be possible without the support system that I had back home with my family and friends and, most of all, the guys back at the University of Central Florida.
“What you’re seeing here is not just Romario, it’s everyone who supported me over the years. This wouldn’t be possible without all them. It’s incredible.”