Long-standing Millwall midfielder Shaun Williams is relishing his new dual player-coach role, having taken up more responsibilities since the start of this season.

Williams, 34, is the Lions’ longest serving squad member, having joined Millwall in 2014 from MK Dons.

With over 200 appearances and as one of the most influential members of the squad, Gary Rowett saw fit to add him to his coaching team.

Williams admitted he didn’t expect to be offered the role.

Speaking after Saturday’s home draw with Cardiff City, he explained, ‘[Rowett] phoned me in the last week of last season and asked if I’d be interested and left me to think about it in the couple of weeks we had off.

‘Just before we came back, he rang me again to see if I’d be still interested and at the point of my career that I’m in now, it was the sort of opportunity I couldn’t turn down.

‘[Rowett] has only been here nine or ten months and I must have earned his respect in that sense.’

Despite admitting he hadn’t pushed for the opportunity to coach, Williams is certainly relishing the chance.

‘I’m really enjoying it. It’s an eye opener, I didn’t realise the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes.

‘Normally, we just turn up, everything is laid out for us, we train and go home. They’re there a long time before we get there, and they leave a long time after as well.

‘It’s been really enjoyable and I’ve learnt a lot so far.’

Williams has appreciated how involved he has been with the staff, despite still being a member of the squad.

He continued, ‘I thought [Rowett] would be quite filtered with me around but he’s not. It shows he has that trust in me, that I can be there for certain meetings.’

Although he had only been coaching for a matter of months, Williams soon found himself on the touchline, standing in for Rowett alongside club captain Alex Pearce after the manager had tested positive for Coronavirus.

It was an experience that Williams gained a lot from in his young coaching career.

He said, ‘It was brilliant. We were more motivators than decision makers, but it was good to be involved in a match day where you don’t have your boots on.

We had the success in Preston, and everyone was on a high, then we got thumped against Huddersfield, which brought us back to reality. But it was a good learning curve and the both of us really enjoyed it.’

Willams’ contract is up at the end of the season and with young Billy Mitchell looking likely to develop into a first team player, Rowett may want to add his experience and influence to his back room team on a permanent basis.