Williams banking on 'band of brothers' to stop Hazard


Wales captain Ashley Williams has described his team-mates as a "band of brothers" and called on them to halt the threat posed by Eden Hazard on Friday.

The Chelsea forward will lead out Belgium in Lille - where he made his professional debut - against Wales in the quarter-final of Euro 2016.

Swansea centre-back Williams is accustomed to facing the likes of Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku in the Premier League.

But the 31-year-old has urged Wales to use their redoubtable team spirit to keep the attacking threat of Marc Wilmots' side at bay.

"He's one of the best players in world, he can make things happen, has excellent balance, scores goals, creates goals," he said of Hazard. 

"I have played against him lots of times in the Premier League, but it's not just him. Belgium have quality across the board, across the team, so we will not pay too much attention to him, but keep an eye on him and try and nullify him and the whole team really.

"Lukaku knows me and I know him. He is very strong and powerful, he can score goals. I will still do my research on him this evening, but I know what he's about. It would be great to get a clean sheet against a player like that with all the attributes he has.

"I think that our spirit is massively important and saw us through a lot of tough times. We have grown up together and when times are hard, we stick together. I heard Chris Gunter say it's unbreakable and he's right: it's a band of brothers and we trust each other on and off the pitch."

Williams paid tribute to the Wales medical staff for helping him to recover in time from a shoulder injury that he sustained in the win over Northern Ireland in Paris.

Coach Chris Coleman is delighted to have the defender available for selection and praised his qualities as captain in a squad full of strong individual characters.

"I'm probably old-fashioned, but you need leaders, plural," he said. "We have a really good dressing room, a real good bunch of lads.

"We've found ourselves in a great position, but it wasn't always like that. We had some tough times, some dark days, and that's when you learn about people - and Ashley has never disappointed.

"He is a great credit to us, a great captain of this country, it's a great honour for him to be captain and he plays with great pride.

"We have great players and you need someone with a strong character to lead them. There's also [Gareth] Bale, Rambo [Aaron Ramsey], Joe Allen is quieter, but leads in different way, Chris Gunter has 70-odd caps and he's still only 26.

"I'm probably old-fashioned, but I think it's extremely important to have someone that leads the group."