Ashley Williams



When it comes to the Wales national team the first names that come to mind are offensive superstars Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, and rightfully so. Their combined goal scoring ability is unprecedented – they were responsible for 9 of the 11 goals scored in the qualifiers – but what tends to be overlooked about Wales is their solid defensive line led by captain Ashley Williams. Averaging 1.9 tackles, 2.8 interceptions, and 8.7 clears per game this season, Williams is considered by many to be one of the best defenders currently playing in the Premier League [1]. Hisability to continue his impressive international and club run of form will be critical to making Wales’ first appearance in a major international tournament in 57 years a successful one. For a team that likes to play on the opposition’s half of the field, a center back with the tackling ability of Williams is key because they are often exposed to counter attacks that are cannot be reigned in from up top. In games, Williams is known to drop back and handle the charges that make it pass the frontlines while letting his team handle the offensive side of things that he does not particularly excel at. Beyond just being the team’s defensive rock, as captain, Williams’ years of experience as a leader and player will help his side remain calm and united in their transition into major international play, an intangible quality that may just be the deciding factor for a team that has all the necessary components to make a run at the championship. For a Wales side that should have no trouble offensively, the idea that defense wins championships applies more than ever and the center of that defense is Ashley Williams.

Other Players:


Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimović

Midfielders: Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modrić, Dimitri Payet, Robbie Keane, Arda Turan

Defenders: Jordi Alba, Vlad Chiricheș, Taulant Xhaka

Goalkeeper: The Gianluigi Buffon


Forwards: Eden HazardJakub Błaszczykowski

Midfielders: Mesut ÖzilYevhen KonoplyankaGökhan Inler, James MilnerBalázs Dzsudzsák


[1] “Ashley Williams.” n.d. (accessed on 29 April 2016)

Ghag, Ameya. “Ashley Williams: The Last of the Classic British Defenders.” The Football Story. 26 May 2013. (accessed on 29 April 2016)


Written By: Austin Tran and Chris Arora


How to cite this article: “Euro 2016 Key Players to Watch” Written by Austin Tran and Chris Arora (2016), European Cup 2016 Guide, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, (accessed on (date)).