The midfielder will bring an end to a glittering career at the close of the 2020-21 campaign

England star Fara Williams has announced she will retire from professional football at the end of the season.

Williams, 37, is England’s most capped player, having made 172 appearances for the Lionesses and scored 40 goals.

The midfielder will play out the rest of the Women’s Super League campaign with Reading and plans on pursuing a career in coaching after hanging up her boots.

What did Fara say?

“After much consideration and despite offers to remain within the game, I have made the difficult decision to retire from professional football at the end of this season,” she wrote in an announcement posted on social media.

“It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have had a career of more than 20 years within the women’s game.”

She added: “Playing football is all I have ever known, but I am excited for the next chapter of my life. I look forward to remaining within the game, pursuing opportunities within the media and continuing my coaching badges.”

What has Williams achieved?

Williams began her career at Chelsea, having progressed through the club’s youth system since the age of 12.

After one season in the Blues’ first team, she signed for Charlton and spent three years there, winning the FA Women’s Premier League Cup in 2004.

She then left for an eight-year spell at Everton, where she won another League Cup, the FA Women’s Cup and was crowned FA Players’ Player of the Year.

Williams then joined Liverpool and helped the Reds to two Women’s Super League titles before spending a season at Arsenal and then ending up at Reading in 2017.

At the age of 17, she made her senior debut for England and soon became a mainstay for the Lionesses. She won the Cyprus Cup three times with the national team and reached the European Championship final in 2009.

What did Reading say?

Reading manager Kelly Chambers sang Williams’ praises following her announcement and admits she was intimidated by her in their first meeting.

“Wow, where do I start? What a career this women has had. From a young girl just wanting to play football to 172 caps for England. Fara has been absolutely fantastic for this club, the staff and the players,” Chambers told the club’s website.

“I remember meeting Fara for the first time, and – I’m not going to lie – I was a little nervous. I met a woman who was crying out to love football again. It was great to see her, at the age of 32, still have the hunger and drive of a young female footballer starting out.

“As much as Fara was going to come to Reading and help us as a club to push on, she also had a desire to want to learn and develop as a player and that was so evident on the training pitch every single day; it was so infectious to everyone around her.”

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