The best moments of Fara Williams’ glittering career

Fara Williams has announced her intention to retire at the end of the 2020/21 season, bringing an end to a career that has spanned more than 20 years and seen her become one of the greatest English players of all time as part of a generation that has taken women’s football to new levels.

Here’s a look back at 10 of Williams’ best moments…

Fara Williams of EnglandFara Williams of England
Williams was only 17 when she made her England debut in 2001 | Ian Walton/Getty Images

Williams was just 17 when she made her senior international debut in a game against Portugal in November 2001, which was a World Cup qualifier that ended in a 1-1 draw.

The women’s football landscape was very different back then, but Williams and others of her generation have served as pioneers and trailblazers to develop the game we know today.

Williams endured FA Cup final heartache in consecutive years with Charlton in 2003 and 2004, losing to Fulham and Arsenal respectively.

But shortly before the latter of those finals she had enjoyed her first taste of major silverware when Charlton won the Women’s Premier League Cup, a forerunner to the Continental Cup. The Addicks narrowly beat Fulham to take revenge for the previous year’s FA Cup final.

Williams was FA women's players' player of the year and FA women's international player of the year in 2009Williams was FA women's players' player of the year and FA women's international player of the year in 2009
Williams was FA women’s players’ player of the year and FA women’s international player of the year in 2009 | OLIVIER MORIN/Getty Images

By the late 2000s, Williams was one of the top players in the country. She had moved from Charlton to Everton in 2004 and was an England regular by the time of the 2007 World Cup.

She was named FA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year in 2009 and was the first non-Arsenal player in almost decade to receive the accolade. Williams also the won the FA Women’s International Player of the Year award in 2009, with England having reached the final of Euro 2009.

Williams was an FA Cup winner with Everton in 2010Williams was an FA Cup winner with Everton in 2010
Williams was an FA Cup winner with Everton in 2010 | Clive Mason/Getty Images

Williams sealed Everton’s place in the 2010 FA Cup final with a spectacular overhead kick in the club’s 2-0 semi-final win over Barnet.

The Toffees then went on to beat Arsenal 3-2 in a thrilling final at the City Ground that wasn’t decided until extra-time, breaking four years of Gunners dominance in the competition.

11 years on from her England debut, Williams reached a century of caps for the Lionesses in a 2012 Cyprus Cup game against Switzerland.

Fittingly, it was she who scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win, her 36th for her country.

Williams was a league champion for the first time in her career after she and Everton teammate Natasha Dowie both traded the blue half of Merseyside for red and joined Liverpool.

Arsenal had been crowned champions nine seasons in a row between 2003 and 2012, but a suddenly strong Liverpool side smashed that dominance, with Williams a major driving force. Prior to her arrival, the Reds had won only one game the previous season.

Williams became England's most capped player in 2014Williams became England's most capped player in 2014
Williams became England’s most capped player in 2014 | Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

In the summer of 2014, Williams became England’s most capped player of all time, male or female, when she made her 130th appearance for the Lionesses and broke the previous record held by former teammate Rachel Yankey.

She captained the team in the game against Sweden and England won 4-0.

Williams continued to play for England for several more years, extending that record to 172 caps. She also scored 40 international goals in total, which puts her joint third on the all-time scorers list.

Williams and Liverpool topped the WSL for a second time in October 2014, emerging triumphant on a dramatic final day on which they had actually started third in the table behind Chelsea and Birmingham.

Both Chelsea and Birmingham fluffed their lines on the day, with Williams among the scorers in a comfortable Liverpool win that made them champions for the second time.

Williams scored the goal that meant England finished third at the 2015 World CupWilliams scored the goal that meant England finished third at the 2015 World Cup
Williams scored the goal that meant England finished third at the 2015 World Cup | Todd Korol/Getty Images

Williams went to three World Cups during her career and saw England improve each time, from 2007 to 2011 and eventually 2015.

The latter tournament was a significant breakthrough for the Lionesses at a global level, winning World Cup knockout games for the first time.

Anchoring the midfield, Williams played almost every minute as England reached the semi-finals. She also scored the decisive extra-time penalty in the third place playoff win over Germany.

Williams was awarded an MBE in the 2016 New Year's Honours listWilliams was awarded an MBE in the 2016 New Year's Honours list
Williams was awarded an MBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours list | WPA Pool/Getty Images

Williams was awarded an MBE for services to women’s football and charity in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List.

The player, who was homeless for an extended period of her early career and had to overcome significant adversity to make it in the game, has regularly given back with her commitments off the pitch in the community, working with the FA to coach homeless women and girls.

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