The duel between Brazil and Ghana, this Friday, in Le Havre, will mark the debut of Iñaki Williams for the Ghanaian national team. It will be the final act in the attacker’s reconnection with his African roots.
The Athletic Bilbao player, born in the Basque Country (a region located between the north of Spain and the southwest of France), son of Ghanaian immigrants, chose to accept the summons and represent the nation of their family members at the Qatar World Cup.
Brazil and Ghana face each other at 15:30 (Brasília time) this Friday, with live broadcast by Globo and ge.
Iñaki Williams in training with the Ghana national team — Photo: Ghana Football Association
Iñaki had already received several invitations for the selection of the African continent, but he refused because he considered himself Spanish and understood that he would take the place of a Ghanaian. He even played for Spain in a friendly against Bosnia in 2016.
The striker only changed his mind after traveling to Ghana for the summer of 2022. There, he met family members, reconnected with his parents’ homeland and was again invited by the Ghana Football Federation. This time, he decided to accept.
Iñaki Williams, left, smiles with teammates from the Ghana national team – Photo: Disclosure / GFA
The choice, however, is not entirely romantic. For Ghanaian journalist Nuhu Adams, Williams realized he would have no chance in Spain. The opportunity in Ghana would likely be the 28-year-old’s last chance to play in a World Cup at a high level.
– I think this decision to represent Ghana was a big moment as he had previously turned down the opportunity. He was waiting for a call-up from Spain, but realized he wouldn’t get it. When the federation approached him again for a possible move, he agreed. He sees it as a great opportunity to show the world what he’s made of,” said Adams, who covers the Ghana team in Le Havre.
Iñaki Williams played in the youth categories and played a friendly for the Spain national team in 2016 – Photo: Getty Images
Iñaki Williams is seen in Ghana as a great reinforcement for the World Cup dispute. The friendly against Brazil is the first of two preparatory games for this FIFA date. The Ghanaian team also faces Nicaragua, next Tuesday.
As usual with the Brazilian team, the rookies from Ghana go through a kind of baptism. Williams took the opportunity to show that the skill goes beyond football. See in the video below.
– Dancing is a natural culture that has been established in the national team for players arriving for the first time. We have different types of dances here and people are always happy to see our players dancing, especially on international stages – said journalist Nuhu Adams.
Iñaki Williams gives dance show in presentation of the Ghanaian national team
Iñaki’s resourcefulness drew attention on the internet. The ge showed the video of the Atletico Bilbao player dancing to Lucas Paquetá, one of the players who leads the dances in celebration of goals for the Brazilian team. He was impressed.
– I’ve never done that dance here, but he did well – commented the West Ham player.
See Paquetá’s reaction:
Paquetá watches a Ghanaian player dance
Iñaki Williams is Athletic Bilbao record holder
Star status in Ghana is no wonder. Iñaki Williams makes history at Athletic Bilbao, one of the most traditional teams in Spain, being one of the only three that has never been relegated from the first division, alongside Barcelona and Real Madrid.
At Athletic, a club that has a rare tradition of hiring only players born or descent in the Basque Country, Iñaki won the Spanish Super Cup twice. He was the second black player to enter the field and the first to score a goal for the team.
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Although, the player’s most impressive feat is the record for consecutive matches played by a team: 240 consecutive matches so far.
Since April 17, 2016, the player has not been missing his team. Recently, a sprained ligament in his right ankle, suffered in a duel against Cádiz, came to worry about the break in the sequence. Williams, however, recovered in time to take the field against Espanyol a week later.
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Iñaki Williams celebrates a goal for Athletic Bilbao – Photo: Getty Images
Playing in the Athletic Bilbao first team since 2014, Iñaki Williams stands out for his speed and physical vigor. The strength, which makes him not miss any game for his team due to injury or wear and tear, probably comes from his parents, who crossed the Sahara desert on foot in immigration to Spain.
The history of the Williams family
The story of Iñaki Williams and his family is one of overcoming. In his mother’s womb, Iñaki left Ghana for the European continent, on a journey that included crossing the Sahara desert on foot, faced by his parents, Maria and Félix, without food or water.
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Iñaki’s parents were arrested, but they were granted political asylum in the Basque Country, as if they were refugees from the Liberian war. They won a residence and were welcomed by social projects.
Nico and Iñaki Williams embrace at Athletic Bilbao’s game – Photo: Julio Muñoz/EFE
Félix, who had difficulty walking as a result of crossing the Sahara, worked as a shepherd, janitor and bricklayer in Spain, until he moved to London, looking for more job opportunities to support his family. Maria came to accumulate three jobs simultaneously.
“Hearing my parents’ story makes you want to fight even harder to give back everything they sacrificed for us,” Iñaki Williams told The Guardian in 2021.
With his parents away from home, working, Iñaki had the responsibility of taking care of his brother, Nico Williams, eight years younger, who is now 20 and also plays for Athletic Bilbao as a child.
The younger brother was called up by Spain for the first time for Fury’s upcoming League of Nations engagements. According to the Spanish press, the call of Nico Williams by coach Luis Enrique is to prevent the promising striker from following in his brother’s footsteps in the Ghanaian national team.
The desire to repay his parents’ efforts made Iñaki Williams dedicate himself to football, until he arrived at Athletic Bilbao at the age of 18, a club that still plays and accumulates achievements and records.