Iñaki Williams “I Have Worked For Everything I Have Achieved”
Iñaki Williams’ story is one of hard work and success. His family immigrated to the Basque Country from Ghana and it didn’t take long for the young forward to be discovered by Lezama scouts while playing for Pamplona. Iñaki quickly became a star at the youth level and is now a vital part of the first team squad. In an exclusive interview with Alberto García of Mundo Deportivo, he revealed that it took dedicated to achieve his goals and that he never could have guessed that he would make it this far so quickly.
“In my first days with the youth squad I saw that I had lower technical ability than my teammates, who I was two years older than. They moved the ball in a spectacular way and I thought I could never have that level. I had to use my strengths. My greatest quality was my speed and that is where I excelled and stood out. Life changed me for the better. It’s not something that just happened, there is more to it because both my family and I have worked hard to be here today. When I arrived in Bilbao and started training with the youth I never imagined that I would reach the first team so quickly, much less that I could settle in so fast.”
The 24-year-old recognizes that he is in a unique role because he is the first black footballer to score a goal for Athletic and become a regular in the starting lineup. That being said, he still believes that the fans can identify with him because he had to work for everything he’s accomplished.
“It’s not just that fans were not used to a black man getting into the first team. It’s just that I was not used to playing as a starter and that came with time. But I also know that, somehow, the fans identified with me. They see reflected in me the sacrifice and effort to achieve a goal; that I have worked for everything I have achieved and that nobody gave me anything.”
When asked about the current season, Iñaki praised manager Eduardo Berizzo and said that the squad is happy with the coach. The forward believes that Athletic are playing much better football while he understands that the team must compete for a place in Europe.
“The sensations with Berizzo are very good and the ideas he proposes to use are brace. He likes for us to have the ball and to always be playing on the opposite side of the field. This is what the fans were asking for last year, for us to be a dominating team. We know that last year was a failure and that our team should be competing for European positions.”
In closing, Iñaki highlighted the fact that the Athletic players are like a family. Everyone is really close and he’s currently planning a trip to take Oscar De Marcos to Ghana over the summer in order to do some relief work in the country. Despite being only 24, Iñaki knows that many African eyes are watching him closely and wants to be a good example.
“We are a like a family. We go on vacation together and are always staying for lunch or dinner. I have a project in mind with De Marcos for a summer in Ghana, where my parents are from. I know the country and try to help how I can. I feel like a reference for African people here. I have to be exemplary. There are many people who put their eyes on me and I have to be up to the standard, both professionally and personally.”
Over the years Iñaki Williams has attracted interest from clubs like Liverpool, but has stayed loyal to Athletic. He’s said on multiple occasions that he wants to become a legend at the San Mamés and couldn’t imagine leaving the club that has given him, and his family, everything. Like the Basque Country he grew up in, Iñaki Williams knows and appreciates the importance of hard work and dedication.