Bolton Wanderers midfielder MJ Williams will come up against his former team-mate and boyhood icon Steven Gerrard when the Trotters take on Aston Villa in Round Two of the Carabao Cup.
The former Liverpool captain, who is now manager of Villa, will lead the Club into battle when they pay a visit to the University of Bolton Stadium
And Williams is looking forward to the prospect of playing in front of one of his heroes.
“I was lucky enough to train with him for three or four months when I was in the Liverpool first-team,” he recalled. “He was a great player and a great man, and I’m excited to play in from of him.
“Growing up, I was a Liverpool fan. He’s still loved and I’m sure he’ll go on to be a great manager. If you ask any young lad growing up in Liverpool who was your childhood hero, it’s Gerrard for most of them. I can only speak positively of him.”
The University of Bolton Stadium witnessed one of its most famous victories 18 years ago when the Trotters beat Villa 5-2 in the Semi-Final of the League Cup to reach the Final.
And Williams is hoping that Ian Evatt’s side can give the fans more memories to last a lifetime.
“The kids that come haven’t seen what some of the older people that come to games have seen,” he said. “This Club was in the Premier League and I remember watching them as a kid when I used to watch Liverpool here sometimes against Bolton.
“It’s a great stadium to play in and the fans are absolutely brilliant, so these are the nights that we want back here and that’s what we’re striving for now.”
Despite Bolton’s underdog status heading into the game, the 26-year-old insisted that spirits are high in the home dressing room.
“They’re all top players,” he added. “To be in a squad that’s in the Premier League, you’ve got to be a top player. We’re going into it full of confidence and we’re progressing really well. We all know our jobs now. It’s a match to show what we can really do and I’m sure the lads will stand up to that.
“We’re all excited. This is what we play for; you want to play against the best players and Premier League teams. It will be a special occasion and I’m sure we’ll give a good account of ourselves.
“We’ve got to be on top of our game because we know it’s going to be a real test for us. With the weekend we’ve got something to prove coming off that defeat. They probably haven’t got the results that they’ve wanted either.
“It’s going to be a great match and we’re going to go toe-to-toe with them. Hopefully we can get the win and the upset.”