Iñaki Williams (29-Athletic Club) has opened up about his decision to represent Ghana at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Born in Spain in 1994, he was capped by his country’s Under-21 team in 2015 and made his senior international debut in 2016. Williams’ decision to play for Ghana has left South Korea, their opponents in the Qatar World Cup Round of 32 Group H, nervous.
Williams was coming off a breakout season in Spain’s La Liga, where he was named the African MVP of the first half of the 2022-23 season. “I even got an offer to join the Spanish team for the World Cup in Qatar,” he told ESPN.
“My grandfather, who passed away not long ago, wanted me to represent Ghana at the World Cup in Qatar, not Spain, so I’m happy because I know he would be proud of his grandson (in heaven),” he explained.
His grandfather’s wishes were the reason for the sudden change in tone when Mundo Deportivo, one of Spain’s top four sports newspapers, reported in June 2022 that “Ignaki Williams has communicated to the Ghana Football Association that he wants to focus on Athletic Club”.
According to Mundo Deportivo, Williams was not attracted to the World Cup in Qatar. “It would be disrespectful to Ghanaian-born players to live in Spain and play in the tournament when they have nothing to contribute to qualifying,” he said.
His younger brother and Athletic Club junior Nico Williams, 21, turned down an offer from the Ghana Football Association and has been playing for Spain since the World Cup in Qatar, scoring two goals and providing four assists in 10 A matches. Iñaki would have felt the same way.
But with his parents’ advice to “take pride in your roots” and his grandfather’s encouragement, he made a different choice than Nico. “I even traveled to Ghana this summer,” he says, not wanting to shy away from his roots.
He has 68 goals and 44 assists in 317 Spanish La Liga games. He has also played in the UEFA club competition Europa League, the next stage after the Champions League, with seven goals and four assists in 26 games.
South Korea lost 2-3 to Ghana, with Ignaki Williams playing the entire game as the starting center forward without a substitution. But a 0-0 draw with Uruguay in the first leg and a 2-1 win over Portugal in the third were enough to finish second in Group H and advance to the round of 16 at the World Cup in Qatar. 안전놀이터