Iñaki Williams “We Don’t Make It To A Final Every Year”
Iñaki Williams is unlike any other player in the Athletic. In addition to being one of the fastest in the league, he’s also the first black player to ever score a goal for the club. Since making his debut the forward has become a talisman in Bilbao and is proud to represent Athletic both on and off the field.
As a club, Athletic have never shared exact numbers for player salaries but many have suggested that Williams is paid roughly €3.5 million per year. During a YouTube interview on Sunday he was asked if that number was accurate and highlighted that nothing has been handed to him throughout his career.
“That’s falling a little short, but close. Nothing has rained from heaven. I’ve earned everything I have with effort and hard work. The truth is that I’m very happy where I am. I have achieved great things, but I’m not satisfied with that. I want to do more. I want to continue taking Athletic to the top if possible.”
As the son of immigrant parents, Williams was taught important values as a child. Those lessons have shaped him as an adult and he’s proud of his work ethic.
“More than anything what they have instilled in me as a child is not giving up and trying my best. My parents haven’t had an easy life. Everything they’ve done they’ve for me and my brother. They have instilled humility in me. Nobody gives you anything, you have to be strong and that’s what my parents have given me.”
Nico Williams, Iñaki’s younger brother, also has the potential to one day reach the first team. The 17-year-old currently plays for the Juvenil A side but could be promoted to Bilbao Athletic next season.
“Everyone speaks highly of him. I tell him to be humble and that he hasn’t achieved the most import thing, which is reaching the Primera with Athletic. I will help and advise him as much as possible.”
Williams may very well be the fastest footballer in Spain. His speed sets him apart from others and he’s always taken pride in being able to outrun any defender.
“I’m lucky to have the genetics that I have. Since I was little I’ve always been super fast. I left all my classmates behind when there were speed tests during Physical Education at school. It’s what I try to exploit in football. I have the physical condition that God has given to me and I try to take advantage of it in the best way possible. Every player is in good physical shape and the defenders in this league are very good.”
It’s been six years since Williams broke into the first team and he’s enjoy many enjoyable moments. However, nothing compares to the day he made his debut which was a dream come true.
“There are several moments that I will never forget, but if I have to choose one it would be my debut because it was a great reward for a lot of hard work. Since I was little I dreamed of being able to step on the field at San Mamés, to wear the Athletic shirt and score a goal as a first team player. When you do, you feel rewarded for all the hard work you’ve done.”
Unfortunately, the 25-year-old has been subjected to racial abuse throughout his career with the most recent case happening this season against Espanyol. The striker shouted back at the fans out of frustration, but says he shouldn’t have responded.
“I’m aware that perhaps my gesture wasn’t entirely correct. I shouldn’t have insulted them and should have done the motion for ‘foolish words, deaf ears’, but I think that in the end it served to help people see that football is a game to be enjoyed. It’s a beautiful sport and everyone has their team, but you have to stop insulting and belittling others and instead cheer your team.”
As one of the leaders in the team Williams understands that he’s now a role model for the next generation. “Younger kids imitate what others do,” he says. “We have the power to reach many people and we have to show the kids how to do good things. I encourage all kids to be good people. It’s what will make us great.”
Williams has been one of the most outspoken players in support of postponing the Copa del Rey final until fans can attend. When asked about the season as a whole, the Lezama product highlighted the importance of continuing to prioritize health in light of the pandemic.
“We don’t make it to a final every year. It’s a very special final, a Basque derby final, and we rely heavily on our fans. We’re looking forward to it. We want everything to return to normal and for people to stop getting sick. We’re aware of what we’re going through. It’s a messed-up time and we all have to be united. There is no other choice but to wait. Right now the priority is the health of the whole world.”
As far as the current season goes, Williams believes that Athletic have had a good campaign. “We are in a Cup final and aren’t facing any problems in the league,” he points out. “We’ve done well. When football returns I hope I can score many more goals than I have scored.” With players set to return to training over the next week, the La Liga season could return as early as June.