DESPITE only being in his mid-twenties, former Kendal Town winger Danny Williams thought his chances of making a foray into professional football were long gone.

But as it transpired, that ship was yet to sail and earlier this year he signed a one-year deal with Scottish Premier League side Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Williams made 33 appearances on loan at Chester City last season, as the Blues romped to the Conference North title and secured promotion to the fifth tier of English football.

With a four-figure sum agreed with Kendal, a permanent move to the Deva Stadium looked on the cards until a counter-offer lured him north of the border.

And Williams has already pinpointed the moment he believes will truly mark his arrival in the full-time game, with the fixture list throwing up a trip to Celtic before the end of August.

“I’m 25 now and I thought that was that for my chances of playing pro football, but I’m thrilled to be given the opportunity to come up here,” he said.

“It was all a bit of shock more than anything, as I thought I was going to be back at Chester.

“I was aware that Kendal had agreed a fee and I thought that is where I was going to play my football this year.

“It will be unbelievable to play at Parkhead, running out in front of 40,000 supporters will be amazing as it’s not long ago I was playing in front of 50 or 60.

“That game will be huge and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Williams joined the Parkside Road club on a permanent basis in February 2011 from Clitheroe where he played under ex-Mintcakes favourite Peter Smith.

He also lists FC United of Manchester and Daisy Hill as former clubs and before kicking off his Scottish adventure, the left-sided speedster was working as a teaching assistant.

While ordinarily he might now be enjoying the school holidays, certain harsh realities of the professional game are becoming apparent.

“Fitness is the main difference I would say between the part-time and the full-time game – this is definitely the hardest pre-season I’ve ever had,” he added.

“Kendal was difficult but we were usually in Tuesday and Thursday, which is fairly typical in semi-professional football, whereas here you get no rest.

“We’re doing double sessions and even though you’re sore, you are still in the day after – it’s much more physical.

“But I’m enjoying it and the lads have been really nice and I feel I’ve fitted in well. Everyone has been very welcoming and it’s a good club.”

Defeat to Ross County in May’s Highland derby saw his new employers miss out on European qualification, something Williams sees as an incentive this time around.

Nevertheless, last season’s fourth-placed finish – masterminded by England legend Terry Butcher – represents the club’s finest-ever SPL campaign.

And the Wigan-born flyer concedes the chance to work under the former Glasgow Rangers central defender, who has 77 international caps to his name, was a major draw.

“When I came here all my family were saying what an opportunity it would be to play under him,” he said.

“He’s a very well-known person and to be managed by someone like him is a real privilege.

“Hopefully my game will improve. I’ve got a lot to learn and I’ve no doubt he is the perfect person to learn from.

“When the deal was done to come here I looked out for Inverness’ results and they were unlucky to miss out on Europe but it gives us something to aim for this season.”

Butcher has forged a reputation in Scotland for unearthing gems from the lower divisions of English football, with Williams earmarked as the next cab off the rank.

And despite the challenges that lie ahead, the 25-year-old insists he holds great fondness for his time with Kendal and hopes to see them progress during the forthcoming campaign.

“I had some great times there,” he added. “The manager at the time, Lee Ashcroft, helped me massively with my game so I have plenty of good memories.

“The supporters at Kendal and in non-league football generally are great, really top fans.

“I’ll be looking out for their results for sure and I’m confident they’ll be up there come April.”