ATHLETIC CLUB

Iñaki Williams explains how he got his name and why Bilbao means so much to him

Iñaki Williams was the special guest on Tuesday's Universo Valdano on Movistar +. The Athletic striker revealed how his parents, refugees, ended up in Bilbao.

Athletic Club's Iñaki Williams was the special guest on Tuesday's Universo Valdano on Movistar +. The striker recounted the fascinating story of how his parents Félix and María, refugees, travelled across the Sahara from Ghana to Melilla and received help from a stranger before ending up in Bilbao where he was born. 

Valdano: “How did you end up in Bilbao and not somewhere else?”

Iñaki Williams: “Because when my parents were in prison [on arrival in Spain], a gentleman showed up saying that he would like to meet them - I would really love to know who that man was and what he looked like but my mother can’t remember much about it and we didn’t have the chance to say thank you to him. He was a lawyer and he said, ‘Tear up your papers and explain that you came from a country at war’. So, as Liberia and Ghana are close, almost next to each other, they said they were from Liberia and ripped up their papers. This gentleman knew people who worked for [social services organisation] Cáritas in Bilbao who helped my parents and that was where I met my godfather. He was the one who gave my parents a place to live and who baptized me. That’s why I’m called Iñaki – in his honour. He helped my parents and that’s why I was named Iñaki after him. If it wasn’t for all of the kind people that my parents met along the way, maybe I wouldn’t be here today, I am very grateful to all of them – not just to my own parents but also to Bilbao because it is a city which is very special to me, to my parents and to my family because it showed me that kind good people exist," the Athletic forward explained.

The footballer says he and his family have remained in contact with the man who helped them in Bilbao and who he is named after. “We’re still in touch with Iñaki [Mardones]. Every year we go down to Pamplona to see him and spend the whole day together, chatting… so we are in constant contact. Right now he is in Africa, doing voluntary work, helping those who are less fortunate. He’s a very kind man”.