Reflecting on Williams' successful Swans spell
9th August 2016
Swansea City broke their transfer record when they signed Ashley Williams.
It was money very well spent.
Williams arrived from Stockport County for all of £400,000 - a sum which eclipsed the £340,000 the Swans had paid Liverpool for Colin Irwin in 1981.
As he departs a little over eight years later, Williams has done enough to ensure he will be remembered as one of the finest ever Swans.
And the decision to fork out what was then a significant amount of money to bring him to the Liberty Stadium has proved to be one of the shrewdest transfer-market moves the club has ever made.
Williams, after all, has enjoyed more success in Swans colours than anyone might have expected when he arrived at a club who were then on the way to promotion from League One.
Williams played only a small role in ensuring Roberto Martinez's got over the line in that particular race, featuring in just three games at the back-end of the 2007-08 title-winning campaign.
But from that point on, the central defender established himself as a central figure.
Williams played under seven Swans bosses in all - Martinez, Paulo Sousa, Brendan Rodgers, Michael Laudrup, Garry Monk, Alan Curtis and Francesco Guidolin.
It says much about his levels of consistency that he was a regular under every one of them.
Williams's first three full seasons as a Swan were in the Championship, where he quickly established himself as one of the top defenders in the division.
He was twice named in the PFA team of the season in the second tier, winning admirers for his quality, appetite and capacity to play game after game.
And having helped the Swans claim a place in the top flight in 2011, Williams had no problem making the step up to the highest level.
In fact, he quickly proved that he could be just as influential in the Premier League as he had been in the division below.
He scored the Swans' first away goal following promotion - at Chelsea in September 2011 - although Williams's strengths were at the other end of the field, while his leadership qualities would see him succeed Monk as club captain.
Since the Swans beat Reading in the play-off final, no player at any club - goalkeepers included - has played more top-flight football than Williams.
And his team have enjoyed plenty of success along the way.
Williams has played a significant role in ensuring the Swans have stayed in the top division for five seasons when many felt they would not survive one.
He has worn the armband in some of the most notable league games in the history of the club, and led the Swans out at Wembley for their unforgettable Capital One Cup triumph over Bradford City.
When asked to assess Williams's contribution to the cause over the last eight years, Curtis suggests he should be remembered as one of the greatest Swans of all.
And he should know.
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