Ashley Williams, My Premier League Diary: 'To me, Luis Suarez's behaviour was embarrassing'
In the first of three extracts from his book, My Premier League Diary, published in the Evening Post this week, Ashley Williams talks facing Liverpool at Anfield, £4 shinpads and his thoughts on Luis Suarez...
I HAD a couple of bangs today that gave me a bit of a worry.
For the first one, we had a corner at the Kop end on the hour which Andy Carroll went for. When the ball fell loose just in front of me, I volleyed it only to connect with the underneath of his boot and caught his studs across my instep.
The second happened about 15 minutes later when my £4 shin pads let me down as Suarez left his mark on me, literally.
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I went to block a shot from him at the edge of the box and he caught me flush on the shin with four studs. Then, as the ball spun loose I tried another block which caught me square in the face, and then I had another block straight after which hit me in the chest somewhere. It was carnage.
As I got up, all I could think of was the incredible pain in my shin from Suarez’s challenge and was thinking of staying down, but we had a corner to defend, so I just got on with it.
Leading up to the Suarez challenge, we could tell that the fact that we were playing so well and starving Liverpool of possession was working as it was all starting to get a bit irritable from their side of things.
I ended up getting into an argument with Lucas Leiva that I didn’t really need to. Phil Dowd got us together and told us to apologise and it wasn’t too pleasant between us, but getting involved in stuff like that is all part of the job.
A couple of minutes after the initial painful challenge by Suarez, I clashed with him again at the edge of the box and the ref gave the foul and also booked me.
Suarez, as he’d done from the start, made a real meal of it. I reacted to him and gave him a patronising rub on the head which he didn’t like and it all got a bit heated between us.
Bellars (Craig Bellamy), who was on as a sub for Carroll, came straight across and took me away before it all had a chance to kick-off.
Suarez has that aura about him that says ‘I’m untouchable’. Having played against him for 90 minutes now, all I can say is that for such a talented player, he’s very annoying.
Football’s a contact sport, meaning opposition players touch, grab and push you throughout, and often it happens when the ball is nowhere near.
When a goal kick was being taken today, Reina was setting it up to kick long and Suarez moved across in front of me. Now anyone who has ever played centre-back at any level of football knows what happens next.
I just held out my hands to touch him in the small of his back, just for him to know I was there, nothing more. When I did it to Suarez, he just stopped dead, turned on me and said, ‘Don’t touch me.’ I couldn’t believe it. I must have done this thousands of times to players and occasionally you get a swinging arm to brush you off, but Suarez’s reaction was one of complete contempt for me that I had dared to touch him.
Obviously, then I kept touching him and grabbing him more.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the manner in which he approached the game, with utter contempt for us all, means that he’s streets ahead of any player I’ve truly disliked since we’ve been in the Premier League.
The sad thing is that he’s a brilliant player and I rate him very highly, but he just possesses this temperament that I can’t stand to see in a fellow footballer.
The lack of respect he shows everyone means he gets no respect from me.
And then there’s the diving.
Today, he dived more than any other player I’ve played against before — it was so bad I was genuinely shocked.
Throughout the game, he just dived down and screamed at any given moment.
Now, obviously, diving has crept into the game more and more in recent years and, as a defender, you have to be aware of it.
But even the players you know that like a dive, at least wait until there is some sort of challenge or contact.
Not Suarez. A couple of times today I’d hear the scream, see him writhing on the floor and for the life of me couldn’t see where the contact could have been. Even Phil Dowd had enough of him and said, ‘You’re doing too much, Luis’ at one point.
You can only judge a player from how he behaves towards you on the pitch.
Well, to me, his behaviour was embarrassing.
Ashley Williams: My Premier League Diary is published by Y Lolfa and priced at £14.95. It will be available in book shops and from www.ylolfa.com. Ashley Williams is signing copies of his book at the Liberty Stadium shop at 6pm tonight. There will also be a signing at Waterstones, Swansea, from 2pm to 4pm on Saturday.