Saturday, May 28

The harsh story of the Williams, from Ghana to Bilbao

Looking for a tomorrow Comfort Y felix, parents of Inaki and Nico WilliamsThey left behind Ghana and its capital, Accra, looking north. Love blossomed in a concentration camp, although the past years, and the harshness of what was lived, make it impossible to locate at what point of the trip, if it was before or after crossing the Sahara desert on foot, with scorched feet. They still have wounds from that via crucis: marks that are memories. “They suffered a lot. They left people behind, they had to bury people behind, they even had to drink their own urine,” he recalled. Iñaki in ‘Saved’, in 2021.

“My mother told me: ‘If I had known, I would have stayed’. She was pregnant with me, but I didn’t know it,” said the eldest of the brothers. Williams en ‘The Guardian’. Comfort carried him in the belly when they jumped the fence of Melilla. Upon achieving this, detained by the police, a lawyer explained to them that the only option to avoid being deported and to be able to request asylum was to say that they came from a country at war. They tore up their Ghanaian papers and said they came from Liberia. And so they arrived in Bilbao, welcomed by Cáritas Diocesana.

Iñaki Williams, with his first red and white shirt.

Inaki Mardones (Bilbao, 1979) narrates his story as if he were part of the family. It is. He picked them up at the Abando station one day in late April 1994. Comfort, Mary since they arrived in Europe, she was already seven months pregnant. “I remember them with the suitcase and the uncertainty on their faces. Their report said that they had a 5 in Spanish, but when I started to speak they looked at me without understanding anything. When I switched to English they sighed in relief,” he evokes. Iñaki, Caritas volunteer and religious. He left them in a pension. Then they went to a Caritas flat.

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the chosen name

He was on that floor on Wednesday, June 15, when Mary began to feel contractions. They took a taxi to Basurto Hospital: Maria and Felix they were behind; Iñaki, in front. “When he was born, I felt immense joy,” he agrees. Mardones. Inaki is called Iñaki for him, as a sign of eternal gratitude for the help received. “The detail they had with Félix and María is one of the greatest gifts of my entire life,” he says.

At the end of that same 1994, Mardones, already ordained a deacon, baptized him in the parish of the Heart of Mary. He gave him his first Athletic kit. “That’s where we put the seed,” he says. When she was too small, she gave him another one. After passing through the Navarran town of Sesma, the family settled in Pamplona, ​​always worried about its economic fragility. there he was born Nico (2002). Iñaki told ‘Marca’ that “one day, coming from school with my brother, I went to heat the food that my mother had left us and they had cut off the electricity”. “When I was 12 years old, one day I came home and there was nothing to eat,” he stated in ‘El País’.

Iñaki Williams, in the arms of Mardones, with his parents. IÑAKI MARDONES

felix he had already left for London to look for work. Mary worked cleaning stairs, offices, airplanes, which in the Pamplona Swimming Club and the Pamplona Sports Club, the first two clubs in IñakiThey barely remember seeing her a couple of times a year. Club staff would pick him up in the square and return him home after training or playing.

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A father for the brother

Iñaki acted as a father to Nico: at the end of the day his mother asked him if his brother had had a snack. Iñaki, the Swimming Club tracksuit was bought by his coach, Xavier Serrano. “He was always smiling,” he remembers. TO Nico his coach from Club Deportivo Pamplona took him on vacation, “as if he were a son,” he points out Manolo Larumbe, president of the club that was the springboard for both towards Lezama. Larumbe He also remembers that, while his colleagues answered doctor or firefighter when asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, Iñaki he always said “First-class footballer”.

Williams and her parents. IÑAKI MARDONES

He had promised his mother when he was 14 years old. It was his great challenge: so that his father could return from London, so that his mother would not suffer any more. So that he would not suffer, his mother did not tell him his true story until he was 19 or 20 years old. When Iñaki I asked him how they had arrived in Spain, he always answered, curtly, “by plane, by plane”, as explained in ‘El Correo’ by the same Williams; active voice against racism and footballer with the most consecutive games played in the history of the League: 216 and rising.

In the past week, Comfort lived from the stands the defeat against Madrid, but also the victory against Atlético, with Inaki and Nico in the green: first rojiblancos brothers since Patxi and Julio Salinas (1986), the club’s second and third black player. Nico scored the winning goal and Comfort I cry of happiness. “Where’s mom?” Iñaki asked after the game. “Hey, it’s my mother, it’s my mother,” he yelled Nico, so that the security guards would let her approach the lawn. They all melted into a hug. They were proud of their mother. And she of her children.

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