Inaki Williams Pic: www.proventalents.com
MONROVIA- Inaki Williams is a rising star in the Spanish La Liga who scored a consolation goal against Lionel Messi’s Barcelona in the King’s Cup recently. New Lone Stars head coach James Salinsa Debbah has named Inaki in his provisional squad to face Emmanuel Adebayor’s Togo.
Despite Williams’ selection it is becoming increasingly clear that Inaki is unlikely to honor the invitation to play for the homeland of his mother dealing a blow to Africa’s oldest republic, which produced the only footballer to win both the FIFA World Player of the Year and the European Footballer of the Year in 1995 but has never reached the World Cup finals. The country has only twice qualified for the African Cup of Nations finals in 1996 and 2002 although it came close to reaching the World Cup in 1998.
Debbah recently named Inaki in a team that is set to include several foreign-based players. Williams, 20, who is enjoying a breakout season this year is not even being associated with Liberia with the Spanish and Ghanaian media but is described as an Hispano-Ghanaian forward. His goal against Barcelona last Saturday in the finals of the Copa del Rey has no doubt heightened interest in Williams making increasingly unlikely that he would ever don the red, white and blue.
Williams, who has featured 19 times in La Liga this season as Athletic registered a seventh-placed finish, was born in Bilbao, Biscay to a Ghanaian father and a Liberian mother and has become a rising gem in the city of his birth. He joined Athletic Bilbao’s Lezama youth system in in 2012 at age 16 and made his debuts as a senior, playing for the farm team in Tercera Division.
Inaki signed a new contract with the Basque Club in June 2013, running until 2017 and was subsequently promoted to the reserves in the second division. After suffering a knee injury in August 2013, he returned to active football in October, and appeared in 14 matches during the season, scoring eight goals.
On December 6, 2014, after profiting from Aritz Aduriz’s injury, Williams made his first team – and La Liga debut, starting in a 0–1 home loss against Cordoba CF. He netted his first goal on February 19 of the following year, starting and contributing to a 2-2 draw at Torino F.C. for the UEFA Europa League’s round of 32 becoming in the process, becoming in the process the first black player to score for the club.
Williams on May 17, 2015 scored his first goal in the main category of the Spanish football, netting a last-minute winner in a 3–2 away success over Elche CF to help Athletic come from behind 0-2. The Spanish press is going head over heels over Williams’ performance against Barcelona and hailing his play as an outstanding performance — after he hit the woodwork and scored a late consolation, demonstrating his class against the inform Barca.
Goal.com reported after the match that the over 99,000 witnessed a thrilling final and a glorious offensive display from Lionel Messi, who, for all Williams’s classes, utterly stole the show. Although Williams’s header, 11 minutes from the end, came as Barca had the duel sealed, his performance has heightened interest and caught the eye of many sports enthusiasts likely forcing Liberia stand in line and hope that the 20 year-old gem on the rise have a change of heart and settle to playing for his mother’s homeland.
But Musa Bility, head of the Liberia Football Association, told FrontPageAfrica Monday that all efforts are being exhausted to lure Williams into the red, white and blue. Ability however, acknowledged that the time is too short for that to happen, meaning Williams will not be available for Sunday’s duel against Togo.
“He was never sent for him the game against Togo, that list was only a provisional list. We know we have work to do and we are in the process of arranging for Senator Weah to travel to Spain to negotiate and perhaps convince Williams to play for the land of his mother’s birth. Source: FPA