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England legend Fara to hang up boots
 Women's Football England International News - 30 Apr 2021
England International News - England legend Fara to hang up boots - 30 Apr 2021 - Women's Football NewsThe end of the Barclays FA WSL season will also bring the end of an era in women's football with the news that Fara Williams, England's most capped player of all time, will retire from the game.
The 37-year-old made the announcement on Twitter this week to bring the curtain down on a stellar career in the women's game, spanning more than 20 years and saw her win 172 caps for her country, scoring 40 times - only Kelly Smith has scored more.
Fara in action against Spain (www.jamesprickett.co.uk).
Fara's career began with Chelsea before moving to Charlton Athletic in 2001 and in November of that year, she won her first England cap against Portugal at the age of 17. Her first start, also against Portugal the following February at Fratton Park, also saw her score her first goal via a free kick.
After winning the Premier League Cup with Charlton in 2003-04, she joined Everton at the end of the season and spent eight years with the Toffees, winning another League Cup in 2008 and two years later, she helped Everton win the FA Women's Cup.
In 2012, Fara made the move to Liverpool and the following year - after seven second place finishes with Charlton and Everton - she won her first Championship when the Reds beat Bristol Academy in a title decider in the final game of the WSL season. Liverpool then retained the title a year later in dramatic fashion, Fara having scored a vital goal against Birmingham City from the halfway line in their penultimate game.
A two-year spell with Arsenal was followed by a move to Reading FC Women in 2017, where she remained for the remainder of her career.
In international football, Fara played in an astonishing seven major Finals for England as well as Team GB in the 2012 Olympic Games. She played in the Euro 2009 Final in Sweden, where England lost to Germany, and in 2015 scored a penalty in a World Cup semi final against Japan, where England were beaten before going on to win the bronze medal match 1-0 against Germany - again, courtesy of a Fara Williams penalty.
As well as her record breaking career for her country, Fara has won many awards during her career. In 2002 she was FA Young Player of the Year and was named as FA Player's Player of the Year in 2009, the year Everton narrowly missed out on the title by losing the last game of the season to Arsenal. She was also recognised at England level by winning the FA International Player of the Year in both 2007 and 2009. In 2016, she was awarded the MBE in the New Year's honours list for services to women's football and charity.
A precocious talent as a youngster, Fara could light up a match with a moment's brilliance and often popped up with a crucial goal. Blessed with a great range of passing and a powerful shot on goal, Fara possessed a razor sharp football brain - the aforementioned goal against Birmingham being a prime example - capable of unlocking defences at any moment. It was also no surprise that throughout her career, she gained a reputation for scoring free kicks that she fully justified on many occasions.
Though often shy when dealing with the media, but always polite, friendly and helpful, Fara became a very popular person both on and off the pitch and someone who was always worth listening to.
In December it was announced that Fara would be a part of the FA's Elite Coach Placement Programme and would work with the England Under-17s alongside then Head C0ach Gemma Grainger.
Next season, it is going to seem strange without seeing the great Fara Williams out on the pitch, with that range of passing and shooting. She will be greatly missed. Happy retirement Fara, and thank you.
Photo - Fara in action against Spain (www.jamesprickett.co.uk).

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