Inaki Williams Biography
Iñaki Williams Arthuer was born on June 15, 1994 in Bilbao, Biscay in Spain to Ghanaian parents. His parents are Felix Williams and Maria Arthuer. He has a sibling called Nico Williams.
He is a professional footballer who plays as a forward for La Liga club Athletic Bilbao and the Ghana national team. He has made over 350 first-team appearances for the Athletic Bilbao club, including an ongoing La Liga record of over 240 consecutive games.
Born in Spain, Williams made his full debut for their national team in 2016. In 2022, he chose to represent Ghana at international level, and represented Ghana at the 2022 World Cup.
Williams spent most of his childhood living in Pamplona, specifically the Rochapea neighbourhood, and was playing youth football with local CD Pamplona when he was spotted by Athletic Bilbao, who signed him to their youth setup at Lezama at the age of 18. He spent his first season with the Juvenil A side and made a big impression, scoring at the rate of almost a goal a game (eventually ending with 36); the team finished runners-up in the Copa del Rey Juvenil de Fútbol, and on 25 June 2013 he signed a new contract with the Basque club, running until 2017.
Williams began 2013–14 playing with Basconia, the farm team who competed in Tercera División. After suffering a knee injury in August, he returned to activity in October, made his debut as a senior and marked it with a goal.
He was immediately called upon by the reserves in Segunda División B and by the end of the same month had played his first match and scored his first goals at that level; he spent the campaign alternating between both squads.
At the start of 2014–15, Williams scored a hat-trick for Bilbao Athletic in a 4–0 win against Amorebieta, and followed this on 7 September 2014 with another treble in a 5–1 rout of Leioa. Despite only playing the first half of the season, his 13 goals from 18 appearances helped the team ascend to Segunda División.
On 6 December 2014, after profiting from Aritz Aduriz’s injury, Williams made his first-team – and La Liga – debut, starting in a 1–0 home loss against Córdoba. He netted his first goal on 19 February of the following year, starting and contributing to a 2–2 draw at Torino in the UEFA Europa League round of 32, becoming in the process the first black player to score for the club.
On 17 May 2015, Williams scored his first goal in the top flight, netting a last-minute winner in a 3–2 away victory over Elche to help Athletic come from being behind 2–0. Thirteen days later, he headed a consolation goal in the 3–1 loss to Barcelona in the final of the Copa del Rey at the Camp Nou.
He missed the 2015 Supercopa de España victory over the same opponents three months later through injury.
In late January 2016, having been scouted by the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City, Williams agreed to an extension of his contract until 2021; the deal included a €50 million buyout clause. He was sent off on 6 February at the end of a goalless home draw with Villarreal, together with opponent Daniele Bonera.
During autumn 2017, Williams scored important late goals in the Europa League against Östersund and Hertha BSC to help his team finish top of the group. On 17 January 2018, he agreed a contract renewal, running until 2025 with an incremental buyout clause of around €80 million.
On 13 January 2019, Williams scored both goals in a 2–0 home league win over Sevilla, finding the net at San Mamés for the first time in 41 league appearances (the previous occasion being in December 2016).
His second, involving a turn and sprint from his own half, touch away from the goalkeeper and precise finish at high speed, was described as “incredible” – it was later awarded as the Marca Golden Goal of the season.
The fixture was also his 100th successive appearance in the league only the fifth Athletic player to achieve this and the first outfield player from any Spanish club to do so since Fran in 1993; for his performances, he was named the La Liga Player of the Month.
On 20 March 2015, Williams received his first international call-up, being named in Albert Celades’ Spain under-21 squad for friendlies with Norway and Belarus.
He made his debut on the 26th against the former, replacing goalscorer Munir El Haddadi at half-time of a 2–0 friendly win in Cartagena.
Williams was one of 11 stand-by players for Vicente del Bosque’s Spain squad at UEFA Euro 2016. He made his debut on 29 May, replacing fellow debutant Marco Asensio at the hour mark of a 3–1 friendly defeat of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
On 12 October 2018, Williams debuted for the Basque representative side, playing the full 90 minutes of a 4–2 win over Venezuela at the Mendizorrotza Stadium.
Around the time of his Spain debut in 2016, Williams was also coveted by the Ghanaian national team, being watched by their Spanish scout Gerard Nus. In 2021, with no further competitive appearances to tie him to his birth nation permanently, he spoke of the possibility of playing for Ghana.
“My parents are from Accra and I really enjoy going. But I wasn’t born or raised there, my culture’s here, and there are players for whom it would mean more. I don’t think it would be right to take the place of someone who really deserves to go and who feels Ghana 100%.” Local media interpreted this as a rejection of any approach from the Black Stars.
However, on 5 July 2022, Williams announced that he was making himself available for the African nation in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
In September he received his first call-up, for friendlies with Brazil and Nicaragua. He made his debut against the former, playing the second half of the 3–0 loss in Le Havre. He was selected for the finals in Qatar.