Fara Williams would trade her 163 England caps for European Championship trophy

15 Jul


Fara Williams has won more England caps than Peter Shilton but would give them all up for a winner’s medal from the European Championship.

Playmaker Williams has travelled to Holland as a key member of Mark Sampson’s England Women squad, two years after starring as the Lionesses took third place at the World Cup.

Since making her international debut in November 2001, Williams has gone close to tournament triumphs but fallen short each time, including when England were Euro 2009 runners-up.

Rather than shy away from setting targets this time, she suggests an “arrogance” in the England ranks can drive the team to glory in the Enschede final on August 6 .

“That’s what we want. That’s our aim,” Williams said. “We have the belief we can win this tournament.

“So definitely every one of those caps would be traded in for a gold medal in Holland. That’s what I’m hoping for and I’m hoping finally to achieve something with England.

“I’ve got a bronze medal from the World Cup and a silver from the 2009 Euros, so hopefully I can get gold this time.

“There’s an arrogance and a confidence about this squad that we can go there and win it.”

With 163 England games behind her, Williams is her country’s most capped footballer.

Along with team-mates Alex Scott, Karen Carney and Casey Stoney, she has pulled on the England shirt more times than Shilton, whose record 125 outings for the men’s team puts him ahead of Wayne Rooney and David Beckham.

Such experience should stand England in good stead when they begin their campaign against Scotland in Utrecht on Wednesday. Sampson’s team will also face Spain and Portugal in the group phase.

The success of England’s age-group teams this summer, including a men’s Under-20 World Cup victory, has raised the bar for achievement and Williams says there is “a little bit more pressure” on the Lionesses to perform as a result.

“But it’s pressure that we’re putting on ourselves, to go in and win this tournament,” she told Press Association Sport.

“In previous tournaments, we’ve gone in worrying about other nations and how good they are, rather than how good we can be.”

A major low point in Williams’ England career came at the last European Championship four years ago when Hope Powell’s team tumbled out early, with just one point from three group games.

Powell had been a major influence on Williams, helping her as a teenager when she found herself homeless by pressing her to find a hostel, and encouraging her career to blossom.

The Euro 2013 performance was followed by the sacking of Powell, and f our years feels a long time ago for Williams when she reflects on England’s miserable campaign in Sweden.

“It was a bit of a weird tournament,” added Williams, who is supporting the McDonald’s Community Football Programme.

“We went there saying we had a squad that was good enough to compete, but I’m sure we probably said that out of hope rather than actually believing it.

“I think that’s the difference between this tournament now and that tournament then. We let people down and we let ourselves down.

“Nobody speaks about it anymore. When we speak about previous tournaments that’s one tournament that never comes into the conversation, and I guess that’s from the disappointment we had in it.

“But it only made us stronger, only made us want it more, and I think this tournament will prove that.”

:: Fara Williams is helping McDonald’s celebrate 15 years of its Community Football Programme and its longstanding commitment to inclusivity. For more information on McDonald’s support of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017? visit mcdonalds.co.uk/womenseuro

Source: PA






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