Fara Williams: England’s most capped player retires after 20 years

With 172 caps for the Lionesses, Fara Williams retires as one of the game's greatest players

Fara Williams with England
Fara Williams earned 172 caps for England during her career. (Photo by Andy Rowland)

Fara Williams has been a household name in international football since she made her debut for the Lionesses 20 years ago. Since then, with 172 appearances for her country, Williams has become the most capped England player regardless of gender.

On April 26, the midfielder formally announced her retirement from football at the end of the current season. Williams has received an outpouring of support from current and former teammates, as well as those who have been fortunate to work with her throughout her career. 

How it all started 

Fara Williams first appeared for the Lionesses against Portugal when she was just 17-years-old. At the time, women’s football was just a shadow of what it would become.

In the retirement statement released on her social media accounts, she reflected on being one of the few players around as the Women’s Super League came to be. Since then, Williams has played for a number of clubs over her extensive career. Whether for Everton, Arsenal, Liverpool or Reading, Williams has undeniably made an impact for whichever club she featured for.  

In the statement, Williams said her retirement had not been an easy decision to make. The Reading No.4’s playing time has been limited over recent seasons. The midfielder developed nephrotic syndrome following thigh surgery at the start of 2020.

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Reflecting on her career in her post, Williams acknowledged that her home debut for England had been a personal career highlight. With such a successful playing career, picking one stand-out moment is difficult. However, scoring a penalty during her final home game may well be a contender.  

Major honours 

With over two decades in the sport, Williams has a list of major accolades to her name, including winning the WSL, two FA Women’s Cup titles and two Women’s Premier League cups. With 172 England caps, Williams has written her name in the history books for her country as well as the women’s game domestically. The 37-year-old was given an MBE for her services to football back in 2016.

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Before Reading’s weekend clash with Brighton, Williams received a guard of honour from both teams and was presented with a commemorative plaque from former manager Hope Powell. The victory would mark the final time Williams will play at the Madejski.  

Looking ahead 

In her statement, Williams confirmed that she would like to continue working within the game. Whether that be in media or coaching, the midfielder’s experience and knowledge will doubtless be invaluable. Fara Williams’ illustrious career will no doubt grant her access to whichever area of the game she decides to pursue following her retirement.

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