Fara Williams is largely considered to be among England’s greatest football players. After making her professional debut at the age of 17, Williams has been capped over 140 times for the English national team, securing her spot as the highest capped player in English football history.
Williams was a talented soccer player at a very young age — at the age of 12 she joined Chelsea Ladies as a part of their Under-14 squad. She made her debut for Chelsea in the 2000-01 season, and went on to sign with the Charlton Athletic Ladies, for which she won Charlton’s Player of the Year award as well as the FA Women’s Young Player of the Year Award (BBC Sport). Williams would continue to play for the Charlton Athletic Ladies — reaching the FA Women’s Cup Final for two consecutive seasons — until the 2004 season, in which she signed with the Everton Ladies.
It was during this early period of her career in which Williams battled homelessness. Following a family breakdown, Williams was homeless for seven years of her life starting at the age of 17, bouncing around from hostel to hostel across London. Her homelessness emerged as an issue while playing under Hope Powell on England’s Under-19 squad; Powell was strongly supportive of Williams, and became a mother figure for her. At the age of 25, and with the support of her Everton teammates, Williams overcame her battle with homelessness (McRae).
Williams was incredibly successful for the Everton Ladies football club. At Everton, she won a League Cup medal during the 2007-08 season with a victory over the rival Arsenal team. Following her performance during the 2008-09 season, Williams was awarded the FA Player of the Year award . After this season, Williams was drafted by the Philadelphia Independence in the Women’s Professional Soccer league, but decided to forego playing in America to continue pursuing her championship hopes with the Everton Ladies (Leighton). In the subsequent season in 2010, Everton was successful in their pursuit of a championship with a 3-2 victory over Arsenal in extra time.
Williams has played in three World Cup competitions starting in 2007. She secured her first World Cup goal with a penalty kick against Argentina in England’s 6-1 victory (FIFA Archive). Although England was eliminated in the first game of the knockout stage, Williams secured the FA International Player of the Year award in 2007. In the 2011 World Cup, Williams scored her only goal in the tournament in the 1-1 draw against Mexico, but was used sparingly as she battled a knee injury (FIFA Archive).
In a 4-0 victory against Sweden in August of 2014, Williams became the most capped player in England’s football history between both men and women. Williams was crucial to England’s success during the team’s 2015 World Cup run, leading the team to its third place finish. Williams scored three goals total in the tournament — a penalty kick in the team’s victory over Colombia, a goal in the semifinal loss against Japan, and the goal that secured England’s bronze medal in the 108th minute of the match (FIFA Archive).
Williams went on to play for Liverpool from 2012 to 2016, winning a Women’s Super League title in 2013. She left Liverpool to play for Arsenal for the 2016-17 season, and now plays for Reading.
- Author Unknown. “Fara Williams.” BBC Sport. April 26, 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/2978539.stm
- McRae, Donald. “Fara Williams: ‘ I had football. A lot of homeless girls have noting.'” The Guardian. November 17, 2014. https://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/nov/17/fara-williams-football-homeless
- Leighton, Tony. “Everton’s Fara Williams declines move to American League. The Guardian. March 14, 2010. https://www.theguardian.com/football/2010/mar/14/fara-williams-everton-american-league
- FIFA Women’s World Cup Archive: https://www.fifa.com/fifa-tournaments/archive/womensworldcup/index.html