Williams and Wales target historic qualification
10th October 2015
After reaching a personal milestone last weekend, Ashley Williams tonight hopes to lead Wales to their first major tournament in almost 60 years.
The Swans and Wales captain made his 500th appearance in the top four divisions of English football and Europa League last Sunday after he featured in the 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur at the Liberty.
It underlines the incredible journey made by Williams, who, following his release at West Brom at the age of 16, reignited his career with non-league side Hednesford Town before catching the eye of League Two outfit Stockport County.
After making 176 appearances for Stockport, Williams initially joined the Swans on loan before making his move permanent in May, 2008.
It proved a shrewd acquisition.
For just £400,000, the Swans had not only found themselves a formidable centre-back, but a future captain for club and country.
And, it must be noted, a durable player at that.
Williams has made 324 appearances in all competitions for the Swans, with a staggering run of 169 consecutive league matches - which ended in March 2012 - setting a new club record.
In fact, the 31-year-old has made 294 league appearances in the top three divisions of English football during his time at the Liberty - missing just nine games in the process.
"There is a lot of mileage on this body," joked Williams, who has experienced two promotions, Capital One Cup success and an Europa League campaign with the Swans.
"I have been fortunate to have some good times during my career and have some good memories.
"Hopefully that can continue and I can achieve a little bit more in my career."
It is not only at club level that Williams has been a regular figure.
For Wales, since earning his first cap against Luxembourg over seven years ago, he has featured in 53 of his nation's last 61 fixtures.
Now he stands on the brink of captaining his country to a first major tournament since Wales reached the 1958 World Cup.
Chris Coleman's side - who lead Group B - need just a point from their remaining two games to qualify for Euro 2016.
First up, a trip to Bosnia tonight followed by a final-day home clash with Andorra on Tuesday.
And Williams hopes the job can be completed in Zenica tonight.
"We have had a great campaign and are in a strong position," added Williams. "The plan is to create some history.
"We are nearly there. It would mean so much to everyone to qualify - we have worked so hard to get this far.
"It is just about staying focused and finishing the job."