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Fara Tanya Franki Williams Merrett (born 25 January 1984) is an English football player. She is a central midfielder for England Women and FA WSL club Liverpool Ladies. A consistent goalscorer and set–piece specialist, Williams is considered one of England's leading players.[3][4] She is employed by the Football Association (FA) as a skills coach.[5]

Since making her senior debut in 2002, Williams has accrued over 100 appearances for England. She played at the 2005 and 2009 European Championships and the World Cup in2007 and 2011. Williams also featured for Team GB at the 2012 London Olympics. She started her club career with Chelsea until she left for Charlton Athletic in 2001. She signed for Everton in 2004 and later captained the club, winning the Premier League Cup in 2008 and the FA Women's Cup in 2010. After eight years with Everton she signed for local rivals Liverpool, along with Natasha Dowie. Williams was named FA Young Player of the Year in 2002, FA Players' Player of the Year in 2009 and FA International Player of the Year in both 2007 and 2009.

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 [hide*1 Club career

Club career[edit]Edit

Williams attended Shene School in Richmond, London and joined Chelsea Ladies under–14s at the age of 12. She scored 30 goals for Chelsea's first team in 2000–01 and signed for Charlton Athletic Ladies during the following season. She won Charlton's Player of the Year and the FA Women's Young Player of the Year in her first season, 2001–02.[6]

A back injury ruled Williams out of much of the 2002–03 season.[7] In May 2003 Williams scored an unfortunate own-goal three minutes after coming on as a substitute in Charlton's 3–0 FA Women's Cup final defeat to Fulham.[8] She headed a corner from Fulham's Rachel Unitt — Williams' England team-mate and then flatmate[9] — into her own net.[10]

In 2003–04 Williams returned to form and was an important part of the Charlton Athletic side who challenged for all three domestic trophies.[11] She started Charlton's second successive FA Women's Cup final in May 2004, but suffered another 3–0 defeat as Julie Fleeting scored a hat-trick for Arsenal.[12] Although Arsenal also pipped Charlton to the League title by a single point,[13] Williams collected an FA Women's Premier League Cup winners' medal when Charlton beat Fulham 1–0 at Underhill in March 2004.[14]

Williams surprisingly moved to Everton Ladies in summer 2004,[15] where fans gave her the nickname "Queen Fara".[16] In 2004–05 Williams lost her third FA Women's Cup final in a row, to former club Charlton.[17] She won another League Cup medal in 2007–08 as Everton defeated Arsenal at Brisbane Road.[18] Williams missed two penalties, one in normal time and one in the shoot-out, as Everton were edged out by Leeds in the FA Women's Cup semi-final at Haig Avenue.[19] In 2008–09 Everton missed out on the League title on goal difference after a final day defeat to Arsenal. However, Williams' performances saw her voted FA Players' Player of the Year.[20]

On 23 September 2009 Williams was picked in the WPS International Draft by Philadelphia Independence. She was due to join up with her England team-mate Lianne Sanderson in America, before deciding to stay with Everton.[5]Williams' loyalty was rewarded with another two Cup finals in 2010: a defeat to Leeds Carnegie in the Premier League Cup, in which Williams scored Everton's consolation,[21] followed by a memorable extra–time win over Arsenal in the FA Women's Cup.[22]

In November 2012 Williams and Natasha Dowie left Everton for local rivals Liverpool, who were hoping to build a squad capable of ending Arsenal's dominance of English women's football.[23]

International career[edit]Edit

England[edit]Edit

Williams' senior England debut came aged 17 against Portugal in November 2001.[24] During the return fixture in February 2002, her first start, Williams scored the opening goal from a free kick in a 3–0 win at Fratton Park.[25]

Williams played in all three of England's group games at Women's Euro 2005, scoring a penalty in the 2–1 defeat to Denmark. She also scored five goals in helping England qualify for the World Cup in China, including two in the 13–0 win over Hungary. Williams forced the decisive own-goal in the play-off against France which sealed qualification.[26]

She went on to play in all three of England's group games at the World Cup, and scored a penalty in England's 6–1 win over Argentina. However, she also picked up her second yellow card of the group stage in that match, and so missed the quarter-final defeat by the United States through suspension.[27] On 23 May, Williams picked up the 2007 FA International Player of the Year Award.[26]

On 8 May 2008 England played Belarus in the UEFA Women's Euro 2009 qualifying and Williams scored a hat-trick of long-range goals.[28] In May 2009 Williams was again named FA International Player of the Year, and was also voted FA Players' Player of the Year.[29]

At the Euro 2009 final tournament in Finland, Williams scored a penalty during England's first game against Italy. However, England lost the match 2–1 after Williams' error resulted in a red card for Casey Stoney.[30] England improved and Williams, captain in the absence of the injured Faye White, scored in a 3–2 quarter final win over hosts Finland.[31] She also featured in the semi-final win over Holland and final defeat to Germany.[20]

Williams was England's top-scorer with seven goals during qualifying for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup.[32] A knee injury sustained in a WSL match with Lincoln Ladies left her battling for fitness ahead of the finals.[33] Despite this, Williams was "more than pleased" to be named in the squad on 10 June 2011.[34] At the final tournament, she headed the first goal of England's campaign in the 1–1 draw with Mexico and also featured against New Zealand before being rested for the final group game, a 2–0 victory over Japan. Williams played 120 minutes in the quarter final exit to France. She was not among the penalty takers in England's penalty shootout defeat.

Williams earned her 100th Cap in the 2012 Cyprus Cup against Switzerland on 1 March 2012. England won the game 1–0 with Williams proud to score the only goal of the game: "It's a massive achievement to reach 100 caps and getting the goal made it extra special."[35]

International goals[edit]Edit

Scores and results list England's goal tally first.

Great Britain Olympic[edit]Edit

In June 2012 Williams was named in an 18–player Great Britain squad for the 2012 London Olympics.[36]

Honours[edit]Edit

2013
2009–10
2003–04, 2007–08
  • FA International Player of the Year Award: 2
2006–07, 2008–09
  • FA Players' Player of the Year Award: 1
2008–09
  • FA Young Player of the Year Award: 1
2001–02
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