Spanish and Athletic Bilbao Forward Inaki Williams and his brother Nico Williams became the first set of brothers to play for Bilbao for the first time in 35 years in the clubs’ history.
Nico’s debut means the brothers count for two of the three Black players to have represented the club, who only select footballers who are from or grew up in the Basque Country. Jonas Ramalho became the club’s first Black player in 2011.
Nico Williams is 8 years younger than his brother Inaki. Nico made his professional debut with the Athletic senior side as a second-half substitute in a 2–2 La Liga draw against Real Valladolid on 28 April 2021.
But, the story for the two brothers came as a huge sacrifice made by their parents María and Félix Arthuer who in 1994 had to travel over 5,000km by foot so their kids can now become some of the best footballers.
Inaki Williams parents crossed the Sahara desert barefoot, while María was pregnant with their first son (Inaki) in their attempt to reach Europe.
When they arrived at the border fence which separates Morocco from Spain’s north African enclave Melilla, they didn’t hesitate.
They both managed to jump over the fence, but they soon realized that they hadn’t reached the promised land. Police arrested them and sent them to the prison along with other Africans who attempted to reach the much-fantasized European safe haven.
While in jail, a lawyer approached them after being informed that María was carrying a child. He advised them to destroy their travelling documents and pretend that they lost them on the way to Melilla.
He advised them to state that they are from Liberia, a country in the midst of a civil war, and request asylum in Spain.
With the assistance of the humanitarian aid organization Caritas, María and Félix were successfully granted permission to live and work in the Iberian nation.
This paved way for Inaki and his brother Nico Williams to live their dreams of becoming professional footballers who now play for their boyhood clubs. Inaki Williams also represents Spain on the international level after refusing an offer from Ghana Football Association to play for the Black Stars.