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Rhys Williams Disapoints Welsh Football Supporters



“I ENJOY playing for Wales. That’s where I am and that’s where I intend to remain.

“I don’t think I could switch. Wales have been good to me and I’ve made my decision to play here.”

Those words were reportedly uttered by Rhys Williams just 28 days ago.

This week, Wales learned he has defected to Australia.

To be fair to Williams, he is from Perth, I suppose. But so much for sincerity, you could also say.

Nobody comes out of this sorry tug-of-war, which Wales have lost, smelling of any roses.

Not Williams, whose mind seems to have changed more dramatically than Margaret Thatcher and the poll tax.

Not Australia, who have contemptuously moved to poach Williams away from Wales even though he has played competitive U21 football and has been in the senior squad.

And not John Toshack, who should not have let this situation arise and enable one of our brightest young football talents to slip through the net.

I don’t buy the argument Williams should have been given a cheap cap against Finland or Germany just to keep him on board.

You simply do not throw the highest honour in the game away like a piece of confetti.

But should Tosh have been more proactive in going to meet Williams, using the personal touch and persuading him to remain within the Welsh setup?

There are certainly plenty who seem to think so.

We’ve been here before with Wales, of course, with a certain Owen Hargreaves back at the end of the 1990s.

Groomed through the Welsh system, Hargreaves suddenly chose to turn his back on the red shirt that had given him his international break at youth level and opted to play in the white of England instead. But, to be fair to Hargreaves, he always kept his options open and declined the first opportunity he was given to play a competitive match for Wales U21s.

Williams, on the other hand, was a pivotal figure in Brian Flynn’s young team who thrillingly won their last qualifying group, beating France and Romania en-route.

His performance against Romania at Wrexham’s Racecourse ground marked him down as a centre-back of real promise.

Big, strong, quick, comfortable on the ball, it was only a matter of time before Toshack called Williams into his senior squad, like other U21 team-mates of his such as Chris Gunter, Ched Evans, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Collison.

Toshack did, for those March World Cup games against the Finns and Germans, but then released him back into the U21s again for their qualifying game against Luxembourg.

That, it appears, cost Wales.

Williams said he thought he would “get a shout in one of the last two qualifiers, but it wasn’t to be”. Off he then went.

I’m not quite sure Williams was in a position to be making those requests for such pivotal games, but there we go.

Who loses most out of this sorry saga?

Let’s just say there are no winners.

Wales are not exactly over-burdened with quality centre-backs that they can afford to lose one with the potential Williams clearly possesses in abundance.

But the one thing guaranteed with Wales was that there was a future for him, Toshack proving time and again he will invest in youth.

How, on the other hand, will Williams fit into Australia’s planning? Only time will tell.

But perhaps when he is on his 24-hour flights to Sydney to play World Cup qualifiers against teams such as Bahrain, Uzbekistan and Qatar, part of Williams will reflect he may have been better served remaining with Wales and enhancing his career by shining against teams like Germany and Russia.

Two last footnotes to this. One is that Fifa may yet decide Williams, having played in such key competitive U21 matches for Wales, cannot transfer to Australia. Were that to happen, it would leave Williams and Wales in limbo.

The other footnote is that, as we reported yesterday, technically Jack Collison could still be poached by England.

This is one of the finest young midfield talents in Britain we are talking about and who, next to Aaron Ramsey, can control matches at international level for Wales for a decade.

Collison needs to be capped in the World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan next month to make any defection to the white rose 100 per cent impossible.

Losing Williams is bad enough, Missing out on Collison would be intolerable.

Article from WalesOnline.co.uk

Written by
Real Football

Published on May 14, 2009




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