Nov 22 2012 by Nick Hilton, DPW West
‘You can’t get a better compliment for Owain Fon Williams than being picked by Ronnie Moore’
NO ENDORSEMENT for an ambitious young Welsh goalkeeper carries quite as much weight as one that falls from the lips of Neville Southall.
So it is no wonder Owain Fon Williams described it as “a real honour” when the former Everton and Wales number one argued his case for full international recognition by Chris Coleman.
Southall, capped a record 92 times and widely regarded as the finest goalkeeper to wear a Wales shirt, reckons Fon Williams deserves a chance to win a first senior cap over the coming months, on the strength of his consistent performances for Tranmere this season.
The 25-year-old from the little village of Penygroes near Caernarfon played a key role in helping Rovers lead the League One table through most of the first three months of the campaign, keeping 10 clean sheets in league and cup games along the way.
Southall said: “You might want to give Owain Fon Williams a chance, maybe in time, to come into the (World Cup qualifying) tournament to see what he can do. Maybe his time is now.”
Fon Williams said: “Neville Southall is a legend. He was the best goalkeeper in the world at one point so for someone like him to comment like he did about myself is a real honour.
“He is an idol for me, someone I have always looked up to, not only playing for Wales but for Everton as well.
“I’m really grateful for what he has said.”
Fon Williams has been included in several of the Wales squad selected by manager Coleman over recent months but is yet to see action.
Even in the absence of regular Wales number one Wayne Hennessey, out since April with cruciate ligament damage, Fon Williams found himself behind West Brom’s Boaz Myhill and Lewis Price of Crystal Palace in the pecking order, though neither is first choice at his club.
Southall said: “For now, he (Coleman) will probably stick with Boaz Myhill.
“It depends on how Chris sees the tournament. If he sees it as we’re on our way out, it might be an opportunity to push someone in.”
Southall says he has faith in the judgement of Tranmere manager Ronnie Moore, who reckons Fon Williams to be the best goalkeeper in League One.
“If Owain is playing for Ronnie Moore and he’s doing well that’s good enough for me,” Southall said. “Ronnie knows his goalkeepers, knows his players. You can’t get a better compliment for Owain Fon Williams than being picked by Ronnie Moore.
“I think that is great for him.”
Fon Williams said: “It is really great that Neville Southall is keeping an eye on teams in League One. It’s not just about the Premier League. People can be blind to other leagues.
“We’ve been top of League One for most of the season and not because of luck. It’s been down to hard work and the players we’ve got here.
“I can’t thank Neville Southall enough for saying what he said.”
Wales’ next international is a friendly against Austria at Swansea City’s Liberty Stadium on February 6.
They are due to face Scotland and Croatia in World Cup qualifiers in March.