DOHA, Qatar (AP) – Joy for Spain’s Williams family Wednesday at the World Cup. Then the despair of the same Williams family, who are also from Ghana, on Thursday.
The Williams brothers Inaki and Niko have succeeded in showcasing their family heritage in the most incredible way this World Cup in Qatar by playing for two different countries. Both were born in Spain but their parents are from Ghana.
Nico was part of the Spain squad that beat Costa Rica 7-0 on Wednesday in their strongest performance of the tournament so far. He came on as a second-half substitute to make his World Cup debut in Spain’s record victory in the tournament.
A day later, elder brother Inaki played his first World Cup match for Ghana, losing 3-2 to Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal.
This meant a complicated 24 hours at the family home in Spain with celebrations for 20-year-old Niko quickly followed by consolation for 28-year-old Inaki. Ditto for the two brothers, who Ghana coach Otto Addo said feel as Spanish as they are Ghanaian.
“I know that they both have a good strong relationship with their mother and their country,” Addo expresses.
Addo added that because of his love for his parents’ country, Inaki’s integration into the Ghana national team was very easy, even if he was born in Bilbao and raised in the Basque Country.
Inaki, a striker like Neko, played the entire match for Ghana against Portugal and stood in the center of the circle at the end of the match feeling very disappointed at the loss.
“Maybe it’s hard for some to understand, but I think it’s really possible to have two states in your heart,” Ado said of Inaki. “He certainly has Ghana in his heart from day one. But also Spain.”
The story behind the situation is inspiring, and it involves their parents’ decision to leave Ghana nearly 30 years ago to find a better life in Europe.
Little did Felix and Maria Williams imagine they would end up with two boys playing in the World Cup when they walked barefoot through parts of the desert and climbed over a fence to reach Spain in the early 1990s. Maria was pregnant with Inaki at the time.
They settled in Bilbao and both boys grew up to be soccer players. They still play club football together for their hometown team, Athletic Bilbao.
The brothers’ careers have always bonded, even after Inaki decided this year to switch allegiance to Ghana and return to his roots. Their playing two different countries in the space of 24 hours wasn’t the first time this had happened.
Inaki made his debut for Ghana on the 23rd of September this year against Brazil, making his debut this time. Nico made his debut for Spain against Switzerland the next day.
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