For many people, the most notable moment in the career of Ashley Williams was the time he almost killed Robin Van Persie.
According to for Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, the Swansea defender committed the heinous crime of attempted murder after smashing the ball into the back of his Dutch striker’s head whilst lying on the floor.
Post-game Williams went on record as saying a Swansea mascot had told him to ‘rough up’ Van Persie. A tongue in cheek response to a highly exaggerated incident.
Almost three and a half years on and still captaining his Swansea side, Williams is carving out a reputation for himself as one of the most dominant centre-halves on the international stage.
Whilst all the headlines have gone to superstar teammates Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale, it is the no-nonsense defender who has been a rock at the heart of the Welsh backline; leading by example and showing this young generation of Welsh talent what it takes to win.
If there was a moment in the tournament which epitomized the spirit of the current Welsh squad, it was during the aftermath of his collision with teammate Johnny Williams.
Appearing to have severely damaged his shoulder, the captain and leader refused to leave the pitch, opting to play the final minutes of the last sixteen clash against Northern Ireland in obvious discomfort.
Of course this could be perceived as stupidity in the player’s part, or bad management from Chris Coleman – but what it demonstrated was the type of character the 31 year old central defender is.
All too often players roll around and waste time, especially when 1-0 up. The slightest knock usually sees a player leave the field – but there was something Terry Butcher-like about the way Williams carried on.
The Welsh fairy-tale carries on into the quarterfinals with Belgium waiting for Coleman’s side – and for the sake of the tournament, and the man himself, we all hope Ashley Williams is fit to play in what would be the biggest match of his career.
At 31, Williams is obviously is at the peak of his powers so on the back of what has so far been an exceptional tournament for him on a personal level, perhaps one of the bigger clubs in the Premier League might look to him during the summer transfer window.
It is never recommended judging a player based on tournament football alone – but Williams is a veteran of English football and has performed admirably for Swansea for a number of seasons.
Like John Terry or Nemanja Vidic, he gives absolutely everything to the cause. Perhaps something Manchester United, Arsenal or Manchester City have lacked in the position for a while now.