Joniesta departs as a Red Wall favourite
Midfielder Jonny Williams is the latest member of the Cymru squad to confirm his retirement from the international game after three major tournaments and 33 appearances for his country.
Williams, who will turn 30 in October, confirmed his decision over the weekend and it was fitting that he scored only his second Cymru goal in his final match against Poland in the UEFA Nations League back in June last year. Part of the squad that qualified for and competed at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Williams ends his Cymru journey having reached the pinnacle of the international game.
The Cymru story began for Williams with the U17 squad, and he would represent his country at U19 and U21 level before the late Gary Speed named him in the senior squad for the EURO 2012 qualifiers against Switzerland and Bulgaria. Still a teenager at the time, Williams would continue to play for the U21 side until he made his first senior appearance under Chris Coleman as he replaced Gareth Bale at half-time in the victory over Scotland at Hampden Park in March 2013.
Williams quickly established himself in Coleman's squad, and like many of his generation, his Cymru career peaked in the summer of 2016 as the side reached the EURO semi-finals with their first appearance at a major tournament for 58 years. Williams started in the opening 2-1 win over Slovakia in Bordeaux, and made appearances from the bench in the fixtures against England, Northern Ireland and Portugal as Cymru made history.
It was in the UEFA Nations League in October 2020 that Williams scored his first senior goal from the bench and it proved decisive as Cymru defeated Bulgaria 1-0 in Sofia, and he would be included in the squad for the EURO finals the following summer. Williams would then score his second goal in his final international appearance against Poland prior to the World Cup. Once again, Williams was included in the squad for the tournament, but has now called time on his Cymru career and will focus on his club football with Swindon Town.
Injuries have disrupted Williams' career but there is no denying that he holds a special place in the hearts of the Red Wall. One of the most popular figures in the changing room, his presence will be missed as much as his reliability and consistency on the field.
With Gareth Bale, Joe Allen and Chris Gunter also ending their international careers since the World Cup in Qatar, this is very much the start of a new era for Cymru, and there is no doubt that Williams will be looking on with interest as he reflects on his contribution to what he achieved with the dragon on his shirt.