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Shaun: win well earned

AS the players from MK Dons celebrated their stunning FA Cup win over QPR on Saturday, one of the men from the third-tier club remarked that just one of the stars from Harry Redknapp's side was supposedly earning £110,000 a week.

"I doubt that the weekly wage bill for our entire squad would be near that level of money. It's crazy when you think about it," says Shaun Williams, the Dublin-born defender who has been an important figure for the Dons since his move from Sporting Fingal two years ago, and was a key man in their 4-2 win over Rangers.

"They had someone like Granero, who's on loan from Real Madrid and has played at all levels. I'd seen him playing in the Champions League and yet he finished on the losing side against us. Moments like that are great.

"I think some of the really big-name players just aren't that interested in the FA Cup. You look at Chelsea against Brentford yesterday and QPR against us on Saturday, looking at both games you wouldn't easily know which was the Premier League team, and which was in League One.

"I know if I was a QPR player, I would have tried a bit harder than some of their players did on Saturday. They didn't do themselves any favours in terms of getting into the team or getting a move away.

"It kind of makes a mockery of the money that's in football at the top. I have no problem with players earning massive money if they deserve it, but it's not right when players can earn six figures a week and don't deserve that money.


"At our club we don't pay big wages even in comparison to other teams in our league. Even in League One you can come up against a player and you know that he's on three or four times the wages you're getting, so money isn't everything," added the versatile Williams, who has played in defence and midfield for the club, mainly lining out at centre half this season.

Williams learned his trade in the League of Ireland, spending time with Drogheda United and Sporting Fingal before earning that move to England in 2011 in the wake of Fingal's collapse. In that time he's slowly built up a reputation as one of the finest players in League One. Out of contract in the summer, it's hard to see Williams spending another season in League One if his club are not promoted and he's bound to be in demand in the summer transfer market.

He enjoyed success in the LOI, winning an FAI Cup with Fingal and also playing in Europe, but the win over QPR was a career highlight.

"Saturday was right up there in terms of things I have done and achieved in my career," he says.

"It was a brilliant experience. I know QPR are struggling in the league but they're still two divisions ahead of us; they still have international players.

"In Harry Redknapp's interview after the game he said he wasn't happy with the players he'd picked and that they'd let the club down, but for us it was just great to win."

Williams had started the game in his favoured position of midfield but an injury forced manager Karl Robinson to push the 26-year-old back to defence, a position he knows well.

"The game went well for me. It was a bit disappointing that I had to go into central defence after 20 minutes when one of our defenders got injured. I was doing okay in midfield, but I enjoyed the game, I got a lucky assist for one of our goals as well."

Williams' side were in control of the game from the off, taking the lead on four minutes and before the hour mark they were 4-0 up, QPR clawing back two goals, but the Premier League side couldn't do enough to stay in the competition.

"We had a bit of luck as one of our goals was offside but they seemed to have a real lack of confidence and concentration and we were able to punish them. We had a game-plan to try and score early, but we certainly didn't expect to be 4-0 up. It was just a great day for us."

MK Dons have a strong Irish accent, with three players from this country in the first team: Dubliners Stephen Gleeson, Williams and Darren Potter. Potter and Gleeson have been capped at senior level but for Williams, his only taste of international football has come in his runouts for the Irish U23 side.

This newspaper has for a long time been banging a drum in relation to a call-up for Williams and the Malahide man says it's on his to-do list.

"It's always been a dream of mine to play for your country and sometimes you do scratch your head and wonder at some of the people who get into the squads," he admits.

"All I can do is keep playing to the standard I've been at and hope it's enough some day."