Athletic: The big week of the Williams brothers | Sports

First, the family: “Yes, my parents will be happy, it’s a pride, we are very happy to be together and to be able to give nights like these to the fans”. she said it Inaki Williams at the end of the game against Rayo Vallecano, which has left Athletic in the Champions zone before the national team break. He scored a goal after a vibrant game, and one of his runs that lift the stands; later, his brother Nicholas, he made the third of his team, also for speed, with great control and a splendid definition.

They finished their big week. Afterwards, the two packed their bags and traveled to the concentrations of the selections. To that of Ghana the largest, to that of Spain the smallest, the bomb on the list of Luis Enrique: “Iñaki hasn’t had the opportunity to come, and I like Iñaki. I like Nico very much. The family will be delighted if they go to the World Cup,” says the Spanish coach. “And if they saw each other in the final it would be the repera.”

Iñaki, a regular in the youth teams with Spain, played a game against Bosnia with Forest on the bench, but has had no more opportunities since then. In his home country, Ghana, which he visited in the summer, they had long since winked at him to wear the jersey of the black stars. Finally, in July he announced his decision to return to his origins. He will be at the Stade Océane in Le Havre to face Brazil on Friday.

For Nico, things have gone faster, perhaps because, as Iñaki said in an interview with EL PAÍS, when his brother was still a youth, “he has a lot more conditions than I had at his age.” He started at Pamplona and went on to osasuna, but when his mother and older brother moved to Bilbao, he went through the Athletic youth academy, where he has progressed to the elite. “He lacks that hunger gene and the desire to want to take on the world because he has had it all chewed up, but I see him more and more mature,” said Iñaki.

Always the family, the memory of the parents who jumped over the Melilla fence in search of a better future. They came from Ghana, although they said they were Liberians to be considered war refugees. he welcomed them Caritas. Maria, the mother, was seven months pregnant. The Williamses were sent to Bilbao, by chance. Iñaki Mardones, an aspiring priest, was waiting for them at the Abando station, and he put them in a boarding house and a few days later, in a flat; who accompanied them to the Basurto hospital, where Iñaki was born. They named it after him. He had a lot of hair that boy, and also an Athletic shirt given by Mardones.

Then they went to Sesma, in Navarra, to work on a farm, and then to Pamplona, ​​where Nicholas was born, when Iñaki was already playing football in the schoolyard, before signing for CD Pamplona, ​​agreed with Athletic, and that he adopted the role of father when Félix, the father, had to go to work in England: “For me he is a reference, a father, a brother, a friend… he is everything. He has helped my parents and me so that we can eat, so that I can go to class, so that I can get dressed”, confesses Nico. All this and also the gestures of complicity on the field, the recommendations, even the warnings: “Put it on!”, the eldest told the youngest with ostensible gestures when he disenchantedly took off the silver medal in the Super Cup final in Riyadh.

And now they move on to the second phase. Both are holders with Ernest Valverde. The goals are shared, two each; Nico managed to score his first in the League since playing for Athletic, against Elche, with a spectacular shot. On Saturday, against Rayo Vallecano, both scored. It is the second time in the history of the Bilbao club that two brothers have scored in the same league match. The first happened 57 years ago, Eneko and Antón Arieta achieved it on March 21, 1965 in an Athletic-Las Palmas (3-1). In the Cup it was achieved by the Belauste brothers and the Salinas, in a very familiar club that has seen 28 pairs of brothers pass, five of parents and children and also a grandfather and a grandson, according to the data offered by Athleticpedia. Only the Rojo brothers played together in the Spanish team, where the Agirrezabala, Arieta and Salinas also played. These last two coincided on the field, although Julio no longer wore the colors of Athletic.

The great week for the Williams began after a disappointment after the defeat against Espanyol in San Mamés. Nico was the subject of a minor controversy when Valverde replaced him, with the score tied, and the striker left the field unhurriedly, somewhat annoyed by the change. “I’m young, I have to learn,” he said. However, he started again on the right wing the following Sunday in Elche and played the best game since he wore the colors of the first team. He was present in three of the four rojiblancos goals: he threw himself into the shot that ended up scoring an own goal by another Nico, the one from the Alicante team, he was the subject of the penalty that Sancet converted and scored the third in a brilliant action. He drove his marker crazy.

With Berenguer on the left, Nico on the right and Iñaki in the center, Valverde seems to have found the formula, which his forwards take advantage of to shine. On Saturday, in a spectacular first half, the Williams brothers were the best of Athletic. By then they already knew that the next day they would have to travel with their respective teams. “Everything has gone round. Saturday, nine o’clock at night, the two brothers scored a goal and three points”, said Iñaki. “The fans and we are going to the league break happy. We are on the wave and we have to keep fighting for what we want, which is to be in Europe”.

Then the national teams: “I had no idea that I was on the pre-list, it has been a joy for my whole family and I am going to perform here”, Nico pointed out upon his arrival in Las Rozas. Again his parents, his brother, in memory. “My parents and my whole family are proud of me and now we have to continue”, but, “with my feet on the ground, I want to work, to be seen by the coach. I thank him for this opportunity and I’m going to give my best on the pitch”.

The racism that dirty everything

“I’m leaving a little sad because of the tie and especially because I’ve suffered racist insults. It is something that no player of the black race or of any race wants to hear, that is totally out of character.” Iñaki Williams said it at the end of the match against Spanish at the RCDE Stadium in which he denounced part of the stands that rebuked him with racist sounds and comments on January 21, 2020, in a case that is still alive. At the time, the Mossos launched an investigation to identify the fans involved and a process was opened for hate crimes and discrimination. A few days ago, the League announced that it has already started the process by filing a lawsuit with the Prosecutor’s Office and now, once the Cornellá de Llobregat First Instance Court No. 2 has transferred the proceedings, LaLiga will also request the start of an oral trial.

It was not the first time that the oldest of the Williams felt humiliated by some sector of the spectator stands. On the first day of the 2016/17 season, the referee of the Sporting-Athletic match that was played in the mill, he stopped the game due to the racist insults that the player from Bilbao was suffering. Clos Gómez wrote in the minutes that, “in the 22nd minute I stopped the game because sounds were made from one of the ends imitating the onomatopoeia of the monkey addressed to player number 11, Iñaki Williams Arthur. This fact was communicated to the field delegate.

Iñaki Williams was the second black player to wear the Athletic shirt in an official match. The first was Jonás Ramalho, under the orders of Marcelo Bielsa.

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