DOHA – Joy for the Spanish Williams family on Wednesday at the World Championships. Then despair for the same Williams family, who are also from Ghana, on Thursday.
Williams brothers Ignacy and Nico managed to celebrate both sides of their family’s heritage in the most incredible way at this World Cup in Qatar, playing for two different countries. They were both born in Spain, but their parents are from Ghana.
Nico was in the Spain squad that hammered Costa Rica 7-0 on Wednesday in the most convincing performance of the tournament. He came on as a second-half substitute and made his World Cup debut in Spain’s record tournament win.
A day later, elder brother Ignacy played his first World Cup game for Ghana in a 3-2 loss to Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal.
It meant a challenging 24 hours at the family home in Spain, with celebrations for Nick, 20, no doubt quickly followed by condolences for Ignacy, 28. Ditto for the two brothers, Ghana coach Otto Addo said both feel as Spanish as they are Ghanaian.
“I know they both have a good strong relationship with their mother and fatherland,” Ado said.
Because of his love for his parents’ country, Ignacy’s integration into the Ghana national team was very easy, Addo added, even though he was born in Bilbao and grew up in the Basque region.
Ignacy, a striker like Nico, played the entire game for Ghana against Portugal and stood in the middle at the end of the game, looking bitterly disappointed by the defeat.
“Maybe it’s hard for some people to understand, but I think it’s really possible to have two countries in your heart,” Addo said of Ignacy. “And of course, Ghana has been in his heart since day one. But also Spain.”
The story of this situation is inspiring and it is related to their parents’ decision to leave Ghana almost 30 years ago to find a better life in Europe.
Felix and Maria Williams could never have imagined they would have two sons playing in the World Cup when they walked barefoot through the desert and scaled a fence to get to Spain in the early 1990s. At the time, Maria was pregnant with Iñaki.
They settled in Bilbao and both boys grew up to be footballers. They still play club football together for their hometown team Athletic Bilbao.
The brothers’ careers have always been linked, even after Ignacy decided to switch allegiance to Ghana this year and return to his roots. It was not the first time they played for two different countries within 24 hours.
Ignacy made his debut for the Ghana national team on September 23 this year in a match against Brazil, this time he started first. Nico made his first appearance for Spain against Switzerland a day later.
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