Iñaki Williams “Not A Day Goes By That I Don’t Think About Winning The Cup Final”
Although press conferences aren’t taking place at the moment due to Spain’s lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic, players are still finding ways to communicate with fans. On Wednesday Athletic asked fans to send in their questions to Iñaki Williams who would respond to them in a video the following day. The striker covered a myriad of topics, but always with public health as the top priority.
“Not being able to go to Lezama makes us have to take more care of ourselves because we aren’t burning what we eat, although we’re trying to follow the plans that the physios and trainers have given us,” Williams answered when asked what it’s like to suddenly stop training. “We want to be in the best shape possible for the return of the league. Of course, I’m doing more than just exercising. I’m playing the PlayStation but not forgetting my duties and trying not to lose shape. The house is too small and I’m climbing the walls. I try to get on the bike, exercise, and work on my core.”
While confined to home, Williams isn’t blind to the challenges facing others on a daily basis. As the number of confirmed cases continues to rise the Lezama product took a moment to thank all of those who are working to help minimize the outbreak as much as possible.
“Hopefully everything will return to normal soon. These are difficult times. Nobody likes to be at home but the important thing is health and stopping the number of deaths. The hardest thing is not being able to leave home. When you turn on the TV and see that there are still people dying or getting sick you just want this nightmare to end and be over. I want to send encouragement to all the people who are having a hard time and give thanks to those who are sacrificing for us.”
The forward agreed that having time off could be good for the squad to rest and recover, but he’d rather be playing football. “We all want to go to Lezama to train,” he said. “The break comes in handy because we are players and we don’t usually get to spend as much time as we want at home. We can spend more time with family. This is a problem that will continue for a long time and hopefully it will be resolved soon, but we want to enjoy being out and the normal day to day.”
Despite being confined to home with his girlfriend, Williams gets joy from watching how the community has come together. “The most beautiful thing has been everyone coming out at 8pm to applaud those who are fighting this and those affected who are at the hospital,” he says. “Everyone opens their windows and this is how we’re going to get out of this, by helping others and those at home thanking those who deserve it.”
Recent reports in Spain claim that La Liga could return as soon as late April or early May. While that may be optimistic, the Lezama product noted that it’s something he can’t worry about because it’s far beyond his control.
“As far as the league goes, these are decisions that we don’t make. What is seen fit will be done. The main thing right now is health. We are all calm and looking forward to when football is back, but we’re cautious. We still have to get out of this huge problem that we’re facing. Hopefully everything will improve as soon as possible.”
UEFA’s decision to postpone EURO2020 will theoretically give domestic leagues the necessary time to finish their respective seasons. “Postponing the European championship was the best decision,” concluded Williams. “There was going to be a lot of crowds and now there is a year to plan for it. I will have to do things very well to be considered and be included in the team.”
At this point the EUROs have been rescheduled for next summer and Williams is hopeful that he will be able to earn a place in the squad. “I’ve never hidden that I would like to play in the European championship and to enjoy training with great players. I give everything with my team, one hundred percent, and I will continue working to be able to go.”
The return of La Liga is a big question at this point, though the Copa del Rey is an even bigger topic of conversation. Athletic have a chance to win the first Cup title since 1984 and the players are eager to hear when, or if, the match will take place.
“First things first, health and being cautious. We have to follow the advice of the experts and spend our time at home. We’re aware that there is a final, that all the fans of Athletic and La Real want it to be played, but today we have to stay at home. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about winning the Cup final. I’m anxious to play it and hopefully we can win. If we win because I score a goal then that would be even better.”
Athletic’s path to the final has been an incredible story, but winning the title will take a great performance. Real Sociedad have been one of the best teams in La Liga so far this season and Williams says the Lions must do their best no matter the result.
“I think we would be forgiven for losing, but not if we don’t give everything. We are a team that always does and we will try to bring that Cup to Bilbao. We will leave everything on the field until our last breath. Hopefully we can take out La Gabarra which is what we all want.”
The Spanish Football Federation is open to scheduling the game much later than the end of the season to ensure that fans can attend, but there’s no guarantee that the final won’t be played behind closed doors.
“I can’t imagine a final in an empty stadium. We feed on the energy from our fans and this is a Basque Derby. La Real will also be supported by their fans. It will be a beautiful day for the Basque Country. You don’t get to a final every day and you always want your fans there.”
Apart from the current situation in the country and the return of football, Williams also answered personal questions about his career. “My best goal was the one I scored against Espanyol at San Mamés,” he answered when asked by teammate Yuri Berchiche. “It was very nice. I hope you can give me the next one and we can celebrate it and that it will be in the Cup final that we all want to win. My best moment is something that I’ll never forget, which is my debut. I’m proud of what I have achieved but I have my best is yet to come.”
Interestingly, Williams is neighbors with Athletic legend and current Bilbao Athletic manager Joseba Etxeberria. “I would have loved to play with El Gallo, to enjoy his crosses and goals,” said the 25-year-old. Iñaki Williams dreams of having a career similar to that of Etxeberria and retiring as an Athletic legend.