ASHLEY Williams is about as difficult to read as a book about Mr Tickle.
This is a player who wears his heart on his sleeve, who knows what it means to be at the bottom of football so does not take life at the top for granted.
Williams was once a part-timer at Hednesford Town, where he spent his weeks working in a petrol station or waiting tables at a theme park.
Hence he savours playing for Swansea City in the Premier League.
His is a remarkable story: from West Brom reject to top-flight star. If he were a little younger, Williams might have been snapped up by one of the heavyweight clubs on the back of his form since Swansea reached the highest level.
And had he not committed to Wales when the call came from John Toshack in 2008, the Wolverhampton-born defender might by now have gained England caps.
Then again, maybe not. Roy Hodgson’s SatNav does not work on this side of the Severn Bridge, after all.
In the eyes of those who watch him every week, Williams is one of the most consistent centre-backs in the Premier League.
He has been terrific for Swansea since Roberto Martinez paid Stockport County an initial £400,000 to bring him to SA1.
Williams has barely missed a game, hardly picking up an injury and almost never getting left out through the manager’s choice.
Paulo Sousa omitted Williams from his starting side once. The player was soon coming off the bench and Sousa said his Swansea farewells not long afterwards.
Every Swansea manager Williams has played for has virtually always put him in the team because his standards are consistently high.
Williams has been known to get annoyed with others, usually when he feels a colleague is not giving his all for the cause.
There have been a few rollickings dished out down the years, Williams chastising team-mates for not putting in a shift.
Garry Monk revealed this week that he is trying to get his long-time defensive partner to keep cool on the pitch, to stay focused rather than allowing his frustrations to boil over.
Monk’s point is that Williams’s concentration can slip because of his disappointment and Swansea can end up suffering.
Swansea do not want Williams to take his eye off the ball at any point, for he sets standards for others to follow.
If every player had matched his levels of commitment, Swansea would be considerably more than seven points clear of the relegation places heading into the last few weeks of this patchy campaign.
Desire is not everything, but it gets you a long way.
Williams has plenty of talent — he is quick, strong and sound on the ball — but it is that hunger which has carried him from Hednesford to Hull City this weekend, from non-league to Premier League.
The bad news for Swansea is that he has only one season after this to run on his contract.
It is a surprise that Swansea’s owners have allowed such a pivotal player to get into this position.
And as Monk suggested this week, it is a situation Huw Jenkins needs to address by sorting out a much longer deal.
Williams has been making his feelings for Swansea clear through his performances over the last six years. Now is the time for the club to respond in kind.
MANY a footballing success has been marked with a few cold ones – but Leighton Baines broke the mould with an ice cream this week.
The England man celebrated Everton’s win at Fulham by getting a couple of scoops from a van outside Craven Cottage.
In tribute to Baines, Heads Up gives you the Ice Cream Premier League.
Liverpool — Magnum. Brendan Rodgers’s league leaders are all about sharp-shooters, after all.
Chelsea — Ice Lolly. Never mind the Special One, Chelsea’s many recent successes have been the result of Russian cash.
Manchester City — Feast. After years of famine, City fans expect a goal-fest every week these days.
Arsenal — McFlurry. One way or the other, there tend to be goals when Arsene Wenger’s men are involved.
Everton — Fab. Roberto Martinez’s first season at Goodison Park has won him plenty of plaudits.
Tottenham — Twister. There is usually a storm brewing when Tim Sherwood is around.
Manchester United — Haunted House. The ghost of a manager past lurks all around Old Trafford.
Southampton — Calippo. The Saints might as well be on the beach already, so a sunshine favourite for them.
Newcastle — Cornetto (Nut). In honour of Alan Pardew.
Stoke City — Heston Blumenthal’s bacon and egg ice cream. People turn their noses up when the Potters are mentioned, but they’re actually all right.
West Ham — Zoom. A tribute to the speed with which Sam Allardyce’s team launch the ball at Andy Carroll.
Aston Villa — Choc Ice. Been at the top level for a long time, but not much to get excited about.
Swansea City — Joe’s. Adored in these parts, but not always given the credit they deserve elsewhere.
Hull City — Funny Feet. In honour of Danny Graham, whose size nines rarely worked outside SA1.
Norwich City — Wall’s. They run into the brick variety every time they leave Norfolk.
Crystal Palace — Orbit. In honour of Jason Puncheon’s penalty at Spurs earlier this season.
West Brom — Screw Ball. Since it all went a bit crazy in the Baggies dressing room after last weekend’s draw with Cardiff.
Cardiff City — Strawberry Split. They have been divided all season about those red shirts.
Sunderland — 99 Flake. The cups aside, they have looked crumbly throughout this campaign.
Fulham — My Whippy. In honour of Felix Magath, who pledged to crack the whip when he got the manager’s job but, as yet, has not had much success.