Reading FC Women are both saddened to announce, yet overjoyed to celebrate the news that our very own Fara Williams MBE, pioneer of women’s football, will be retiring at the end of the season.
In an unrivalled career that spans twenty years, Williams has been a trailblazing star of the women’s game in the UK and holds the lofty distinction of being the most capped England footballer of all time with an astonishing 172 appearances to her name.
She began her career at Chelsea Under-14s before rising through the ranks to the first team. From there she had a spell at Charlton Athletic before heading up north to Everton for an 8-year spell that saw her net 70 goals in 122 appearances from midfield.
The midfielder stayed in Merseyside and jumped ship to Liverpool in November 2012, shortly after represented Great Britain in the 2012 Olympic Games. Williams won the WSL title with the Reds with a victory over Bristol on the last day of the 2013 season, before retaining the championship in 2014.
2016 came, and with it a huge accolade, as Fara was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 2016 New Years Honours for her services to both women’s football and charity.
2016 was also notable for another reason for Williams, as she moved clubs again, this time to Liverpool’s highly decorated top-flight rivals Arsenal. Then, after just over eighteen months with the Gunners, she would make the final move of her illustrious career as she signed for Kelly Chambers’ Royals in August of 2017.
Fara Williams has been a leader in the blue and white of Reading, but also remained constantly hungry to learn and evolve. This attitude and relentless work ethic saw Williams blossom in her near-four years as a Royal, playing some of the best football of her career and maintaining throughout that Reading has been some of her happiest years as a footballer.
Reading FC Women Manager Kelly Chambers, who signed Williams back in 2017, has piled endless praise on Williams as a player, mentor, inspiration and person.
“Wow, where do I start?” Chambers said. “What a career this women has had. From 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.
“I remember meeting Fara for the first time, and – I’m not going to lie – I was a little nervous,” Chambers laughed, recalling her first encountered Williams. “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.”
On working with the midfielder over the past four years and having her unrivalled experience in-and-around her Royals squad, Chambers was equally complimentary. “I simply cannot speak highly enough of Fara. She has been such an instrumental part in our development and success as a club and we will be forever grateful. Over the time Fara has been here I truly believe she found what she was looking for and has made some fantastic memories.”
The 2020-21 season has been a tough one for Fara, who recently spoke about a kidney condition that kept her side-lined for most of the campaign. On the impact the illness had on what would ultimately be Williams’ final season, Chambers said, “She has had a frustrating season and a frustrating end to her career with injury and the illness, but when she has stepped on the pitch in a Reading shirt, she has always given her everything, every single time.
“Fara will be missed on the pitch, but I wish her the very best in her next chapter. I have no doubt she will be successful in whatever she chooses to do. Her knowledge of the game is second to none, as is the hunger and desire she has to learn and develop. She is a true idol to any young female football out there. On record I would like to thank Fara for everything she has done for me, the staff, the players and the club.”
Reading Football Club would like to thank Fara Williams for her time as Royal, for the hard work and dedication she has given both the club and women’s football as a whole. A true legend and pioneer.