Matildas great Lydia Williams honoured by Evonne Goolagong Cawley in emotional farewell

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun17,2024
Australia has given Matildas pioneer Lydia Williams a stirring send-off from international football.
Williams, Australian football’s longest-serving player, sent the big crowd at Sydney’s Stadium Australia wild with every touch of the ball during the friendly against China on Monday night.
The match was the Matildas’ last home game before the Paris Olympic Games in July and likely Williams’ final match for her country. She will travel to Paris as a reserve, having missed the core 18-member squad named on Tuesday morning.

On Monday night, a guard of honour assembled for the 36-year-old goalkeeper before the match as Australian tennis great Evonne Goolagong Cawley presented Williams, a Noongar woman, with a traditional animal skin cloak.

Williams, who wore the captain’s armband and was playing her 104th match for the Matildas, was substituted just before halftime for first-choice goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold.

As Williams walked off the 76,798-strong crowd gave her a standing ovation.

The experienced campaigner has featured in five World Cups, six AFC women’s Asian Cups — including the 2010 title triumph — and two Olympic Games.
“To receive that gift from Evonne was just incredible and I think that was probably the moment that tipped me over emotionally,” Williams said.

“I don’t know if it’s like, game recognises game. It was a lovely moment.

“A lot of sporting women in Australia just want to leave the game better than when they first arrived in it and don’t really realise the impact of how they have shaped the culture of not only women’s sport, but just Australian sport.
“To receive that from such an icon, a legend of tennis, is just absolutely, really humbling.
“That was kind of a cap off to the kid that grew up in the desert that fell in love with football.”
Debuting for the country in 2005 as a 17-year-old, Williams has been a crucial figure for the women’s team throughout their rise.

The Western Australian was the face of the Matildas’ 2015 players’ strike, spearheading the fight to improve working conditions for the national team.

Teammate Clare Hunt praised Williams’s contributions to the sport across her 19 years with the Matildas.
“It was just an awesome celebration of all that she’s achieved personally in her career but also for Australian women’s football and women’s football across the world,” Hunt said.
“It’s always a privilege to share the field with Lyds.

“She’s very old-haired and very mature and very experienced, so it’s amazing to be able to be in an environment where you learn from her every single day.”

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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