Ashley Williams: Wales captain considered international retirement

Ashley Williams
Ashley Williams has scored two goals for Wales, against Luxembourg in a friendly and against Belgium in the Euro 2016 quarter-final
China Cup: China v Wales
Venue: Guangxi Sports Center, Nanning Date: Thursday, 22 March Kick-off: 11:35 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Wales captain Ashley Williams has revealed he considered retiring from international football after failing to qualify for the World Cup.

The Everton defender, 33, played in October's 1-0 home loss to the Republic of Ireland which ended Welsh hopes of playing in Russia this summer.

Williams is determined to continue as Wales captain but admits he did consider his future.

"Yes, I had to think about it myself a little bit," he said.

"It was just so disappointing missing out on that [the World Cup] that I had to think about it. I spoke to the people closest to me and stuff.

"I didn't want to retire or anything like that, but I felt like it was something that I should've thought about and seen where I was at with club and international football and life in general.

"I did give that a thought, but then I decided I wanted to keep doing it anyway."

Williams and his Wales team-mates are in China for the China Cup friendly tournament, which begins with their match against the hosts in Nanning on Thursday.

It will be the first game in charge for new Wales manager Ryan Giggs, who invited Williams to a meeting with his backroom staff earlier this month to confirm he would be keeping the captaincy.

"It was nice. It was nice for the confidence," said Williams.

"He had already called me and said if I wanted to continue with that he wanted me to be the captain, which was very welcome from my point of view, it's always nice to hear.

"I said obviously it's something I take a lot of pride in and I would like to continue to do that. From the first day we spoke on the phone, he wanted to know my thoughts. We have had a few good chats about stuff the way it works and going forward how it will work."

Ashley Williams and Alfie Mawson battle for the ball
Ashley Williams moved from Swansea to Everton in August 2016 for an undisclosed fee, thought to be £12m

A day before the meeting in Manchester, Williams had been sent off during Everton's 2-1 Premier League defeat at Burnley.

Toffees manager Sam Allardyce described the red card as "unprofessional", and Williams has been criticised for some below-par performances this season.

"It's not been great obviously, it's been well documented," said the former Swansea City skipper.

"It's not the first time it has happened in my career where you have a bit of season you don't enjoy so much and things don't go well.

"It's just football, it happens and you just get on with it. We are towards the end of the season now.

"But it's a new start here with Wales, I have enjoyed the last few days meeting back up with the guys. Kind of switching off from club football and switching on to international football."

If, as expected, Williams plays against China, he will win his 77th cap for Wales.

And having secured the captaincy for the foreseeable future, the 33-year-old believes he still has a fair few years left before he has to consider retiring.

"Yes I'd like to think so," Williams added. "Obviously I have enjoyed coming out [to China] already and getting stuck into training and stuff.

"Football is what I have done all my life so I am not really of the mindset I want to stop playing any time soon."

Top Stories