Jamaica raised, UCF bred, Romario Williams is moving to Montreal to try and have an impact in MLS.
Williams was drafted No. 3 overall in the MLS SuperDraft by the Montreal Impact on Friday, making him the highest draft pick ever for UCF men's soccer.
"Bounjour Montreal!" Williams said at the podium in conclusion of his draft speech.
In three years at UCF, Williams scored 18 goals, and was 6-6 on penalty kicks. In 2013, as a sophomore, he was named the American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year.
"Time flies," said UCF head coach Bryan Cunningham. "Romario enrolled early with us, in the spring of 2012, and he's been nothing but great for us."
Cunningham said Williams was selected by Montreal likely because the team liked his raw athleticism and playmaking ability.
"There's a value to scoring goals, there's a value to creating opportunities, and I think Romario obviously did that for us, but I really think he's going to be able to do that at the next level and I think Montreal saw that as well," said Cunningham.
Williams, who grew up in Jamaica, played for the Jamaican National Team in the 2011 U17 Fifa World Cup, so he's used to playing on big stages. He was able to use this experience during the MLS Combine to impress teams and solidify his spot as one of the elite players in the draft.
"Just being myself most of all, going in with that humble mentality that whatever you do here is going to separate you from the other guys," Williams said of his pre-draft workouts and interviews. "I just tried to leave a lasting impression on all the coaches and the front office personnel at the combine."
Williams is eager to be off to Montreal to start the next phase of his life, but he's already begun to look back at his time spent at UCF with nostalgia.
"It's been a remarkable three years at this university," Williams said. "I've met some special people along the way, I've had some really good teammates, really good friends, words can't explain the experience that I've had since I've been here.
"This place will always be in my heart. It's definitely safe to call it my second home."
Williams also said that, while it may be delayed for a few years, he still intends to graduate and get his degree.
He will return to Orlando on Oct. 3 when the Impact travel make their first trip to play Orlando FC. Williams is already excited for the opportunity to play in front of Orlando fans again, and meet up with friends he's made in three years at UCF.
"Words can't explain how much I'm going to miss this place to be honest, because I've really developed some great relationships with a couple of my teammates and friends that I've met here," Williams said. "It's going to definitely be missed."
Colin Bell is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.