FARA WILLIAMS has revealed a kidney condition she was diagnosed with left her emotionally shattered.
Williams, 37, discovered she had nephrotic syndrome in March 2020 following thigh surgery after a training injury.
The condition which kept her sidelined is caused by an excess leak of protein from a person's bloodstream into their urine.
And it can lead to swelling in the legs and ankles.
In a BBC interview, Williams said: "I see myself as mentally tough, and that's something that's stood well for me throughout my career.
"But, yeah, this one broke me. For the first time in my career I wasn't in control of my body, the medication took over.
"As I was coming off the steroids, that was when I started getting the side-effects – hair growing on your face and hands and where it shouldn't grow on women.
"My face was swollen – moon face, as they call it – which was explained to me but I didn't understand how it would affect me mentally, especially with image being such a big factor in the women's game.
"No matter what I was doing in my diet it wasn't helping."
Although not physically at her best, Williams made a return to Women's Super League action in Reading's game against West Ham.
But the Royals ace was subbed after just 16 minutes.
And the striker, who is currently England's most-capped female player,felt a return to football action would help her cope with her condition.
Williams added:"I've relied on football and it has been my go-to over my career and maybe I believed I needed to be in it to deal with the illness.
"But that was the time when I accepted I was ill and while I was on medication, I probably wasn't going to perform to the levels I expected of myself.
"But pushing as much as I was and feeling like I was failing at every attempt wasn't a great feeling.
"I also wasn't able to be honest with my team-mates about how I was feeling and I was keeping it to myself.
"I've always been honest and open with people but throughout this illness I wasn't able to be honest with it and with the people around me."
"When I did tell them, I broke down because I was feeling vulnerable throughout the illness – my body wasn't allowing me to do the things my head wanted to do."
Williams, who has had an illustrious career making 170 England appearances, shared the news of her illness on social media.
And the former Liverpool star is currently working with England Women’s Under-17s as part of an FA Elite Coaching Programme.
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