Why Iñaki Williams Switched His Allegiance to Ghana

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Iñaki Williams holds the record for the most consecutive games played in the Spanish league. He attributes this to his genes and likens it to his parent’s journey of walking across the Sahara desert on their way to Spain. He’s been a loyal servant for Athletic Bilbao and his future remains with the club.

Internationally, he reversed his decision to play for the Ghana national team and he now represents the country of his parent’s birth. Read the full story here. 

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Iñaki Williams’s Early Life

Iñaki Williams playing for Athletic Club. Source: Instagram

The footballer was born in Spain but is of Ghanaian descent. His parents emigrated in pursuit of a better life for their kids. Like many migrants from Africa, they paid for the help but were abandoned in the Sahara desert. 

They walked across the high temperatures to Spain and got to Melilla. By this time, Williams’ mother was pregnant with him. She managed to cross the fence at Melilla but they got arrested. 

Both were lucky that they met a lawyer who tore their papers and advised them to say that they arrived from war-torn Liberia to receive political asylum. The lawyer helped them get to Bilbao where life began for Iñaki Williams. 

That said, things weren’t easy because they now lived in Spain. His parents had to find jobs which resulted in his father leaving home for 10 years for London for work. His mother also worked to help with the family and Iñaki decided that football would be his outlet.  

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Iñaki Williams’s Early Career

Williams in training. Source: Instagram

Williams’ football journey started in Pamplona. He played for the Pamplona football academy and that’s where Athletic Bilbao spotted him and signed him to Lezama. He was one of the standout players in the junior team, scoring 36 goals and leading his team to second place in the Copa del Rey Juvenil de Fútbol

In 2013, he signed a contract at Athletic Bilbao but first played for Basconia in the third division and alternated between the two. In the following season, Williams played a significant role in his team’s promotion to the second division of Spanish football.

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Senior Career

After impressive performances on the junior side, Williams was promoted to the senior side, debuting in 2014. He scored his first goal at the club against Torino and achieved a piece of history. He was the first black player to score for Athletic Bilbao and the second to play for the club. 

With his rise in status, European clubs showed interest in the player, but he signed a long-term contract until 2021. He was involved in all the games between 2017 and 2022, a total of 251 consecutive games. It’s a rare feat considering the heavy football schedule and he admits that doctors and physios were surprised by this. 

Williams admits that at times, he played with pain and injections, especially when the team needed him. In 2019, the footballer signed a nine-year contract extension that will see him stay at the club until 2028.

Throughout his time, Iñaki Williams has made over 300 appearances and scored over 70 goals. He’s cementing himself as one of the club’s legends.

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International Career

Williams playing for Ghana. Source: Instagram

Williams began his international career with the Spanish national team, having played for the under-21 side between 2015 and 2017. He only played a game for the senior side, represented the Basque Country Football team and later switched allegiance to the Ghanaian football team. 

Despite Williams’s confession that he feels more Spanish and won’t want to take someone else’s spot, he changed his mind and now says playing for Ghana helps him be much closer to his parent’s country of birth. 

His parents and grandfather’s acceptance of his decision, plus Ghana playing at the World Cup, helped him make this decision. 

Iñaki Williams’ legacy lies with Athletic Bilbao. He’s dedicated his career to the team and is vocal about his love for the Basque country. As for his international career, people might have different opinions about switching countries. 

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