“Inaki Williams (left) always knew that his brother, Nico, was special, even when his younger sibling was too nervous to allow his brother-already a big star in the Athletic Bilbao football team-to watch his youth games at the Athletic Club Academy. Inaki was a pioneer in more than one way. He helped raise Nico while their parents worked to make ends meet, but also paved the way for his brother and other sons of immigrants to represent a club whose policy of only fielding players born or raised in the Basque Country inevitably meant the squad has historically reflected the predominantly white society around it.

The brothers’ story is one of struggle, from the very beginning. Their mother, Maria, was pregnant with Inaki when she left Ghana with his father Felix in
search of a better life. Maria and Felix crossed part of the Sahara barefoot and Inaki only learned the full extent of their story when he was 20. He had known his father had problems with the soles of his feet, but not that scorching sand was the reason why.

Felix and Maria made it to the Spanish territory of Melilla in north Africa, jumping a border fence, but were detained by the civil guard. A lawyer advised them to lie, to say they were from war-torn Liberia instead and seek political asylum. He arranged help in Bilbao from Catholic priest Inaki Mardones, who met the couple at Abando railway station when Maria was seven months pregnant, found them an apartment and took them to hospital for Inaki’s birth. Mardones baptised the future star, even gave him his first football shirt, and became his godfather. He is whom Inaki takes his name from.

Now, the brothers might make history this Saturday, as they’ll fight for Athletic to win their first major trophy in 40 years, when they face Mallorca in the Copa del Rey final in Seville. More than 100,000 fans are expected to make the trip by air, rail or eight-hour drive, most without tickets. If Athletic return with the trophy, the legend of the Williams brothers will be immortalised.”

Source: BBC News Africa