ENGLAND icon Fara Williams today took to the streets of Southampton to deliver surprise tickets to residents for Friday’s 2023 World Cup Qualifier at St Mary’s.

The Lionesses play North Macedonia at the home of Saints (7pm) to kickstart the road to the tournament, set to be held in Australia and New Zealand.

England’s clash on the south coast marks the start of a new era for the side, with former Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman taking charge following her appointment last September.

Lionesses legend and the most capped England player of all time, Williams scored 40 goals in 172 appearances for the national team before announcing her retirement earlier this year.

Speaking while awarding lucky residents with match tickets, Williams told the Daily Echo: “It was a really good afternoon.

“In Southampton, in terms of the street names here, they are well known in terms of the same names of the places for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

“The FA thought it would be a good idea to maybe go along those streets and hand out some tickets for some lucky families.

“My job has been meeting some delighted families and kids who have got a free ticket to watch a game on Friday night.”

She added: “To go to a live game after what has probably been the worst two years of all of our lives in terms of being locked away – the unknown.

“But to be able to come out and watch a live sporting game, the kids looked delighted.

“Southampton and St Mary’s, in terms of what they have delivered for the Lioness teams throughout the years has been fantastic.

“They are also going to be one of the host stadiums for the Euros next summer.”

Looking at the start of new boss Wiegman’s spell in charge, Williams said: “I think her appointment was one that was needed. I think this group of players, talented players we have, they certainly needed somebody who might be able to take them to that next level.

“I think she is a person who could do that. If you look at her record with the Dutch team, winning the Euros and the final of a World Cup – also in terms of her playing she had more than 100 caps for Holland.

“I spoke to some of the players this week about her and they said she was firm, very direct and clear with her messages. That’s something I think this group of players need.”

Tickets for the group opener at St Mary’s are still available. Please visit The FA Website to book your tickets.