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England legend, Fara Williams reveals kidney condition battle

England’s most-capped female player of all time, Fara Williams has revealed she has been battling a kidney condition for almost a year.

The 37-year-old, who plays as central midfielder for Reading and the England national team, opened in an Instagram post about her nephrotic syndrome diagnosis and the subsequent challenges she has faced. 

Williams said after she had thigh surgery in March last year, she started noticing swelling in her hands, legs, and face during the final stages of her rehabilitation. 

When she had a kidney biopsy, the results revealed she had the condition, called nephrotic syndrome.

The condition is caused by an excess leak of protein from blood into urine and can lead to swelling in the legs and ankles.


In March 2020, I had an operation to reattach the muscle & tendons of my thigh to the bone. In my final stage of rehab, I noticed swelling in my legs, hands & face. 


My first thought was that it was some sort of allergy, however, the following Day I was admitted to A & E & underwent many tests, including a kidney biopsy. The result of the biopsy showed that I had a kidney condition called Nephrotic Syndrome.


To treat this condition, I was put on the highest possible dose of steroids. This, of course, did not come without noticeable side effects. I gained an excessive amount of weight & this was noticeable in both my physical appearance and performances on the pitch.

 England legend, Fara Williams reveals kidney condition battle

I was fully cleared to play football on this medication by the Anti-doping Authority, together with my having regular blood & urine tests.


My consultant had never encountered someone within sport with this condition, until assisting me with my treatment, so it has been difficult to know what to do for the best – both for myself and Reading WFC.


I’ve been conscious of not wanting my teammates or the fans to think that I was unfit or not trying my absolute hardest in training sessions or during matches, particularly as, the reason was the condition and side effects of my medication. Upon reflection, I now feel I should have waited until I was further into recovery before I continued to play football.



It is important to be open & honest about the challenges I have faced, with both my mental & physical well-being, over recent months and especially during lockdown, which has been challenging for us all.


It is also important to speak out and support each other now more than ever and I would encourage anyone experiencing similar difficulties, be it health or personal matters, to seek support.


I would like to thank my consultant and the medical and physio team at Reading, who have been instrumental in ensuring that I have received the right care, as well as my agents at New Era, my partner, family & friends for their unconditional emotional support. I now look forward to getting back on the pitch in good health.

Williams is England’s most-capped women’s international with 170 appearances.


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