2 brothers, 2 teams, 2 very different World Cup experiences

DOHA, Qatar — Wednesday brought joy to Spain’s Williams family at the World Cup. Then there was desperation on Thursday against the Williams family, also from Ghana.

Playing for two different countries at this World Cup in Qatar, Williams brothers Inaki and Nico have left their mark on both sides of their family in the most incredible way. They were both born in Spain, but their parents were from Ghana.

Nico was part of Spain’s 7-0 thrashing of Costa Rica on Wednesday in its most dramatic performance of the tournament so far. He came on as a second-half substitute to make his World Cup debut in Spain’s record game.

A day later, big brother Inaki played his first World Cup match for Ghana, losing 3-2 to Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal.

That meant a complicated 24 hours at home in Spain, with celebrations for 20-year-old Nico, no doubt followed by sympathy for 28-year-old Iñaki. Ghana coach Otto Addo said it was the same for the brothers, who felt both Spanish and Ghanaian.

“I know they all have good, strong relationships with their mothers and their country,” Addo said.

Photos: 2 brothers, 2 teams, 2 very different World Cup experiences

Addo added that Inaki’s integration into the Ghana squad was easy because of his love for his parents’ country, even though he was born in Bilbao and grew up in the Basque Country.

Inaki, the same forward as Nico, played the entire game for Ghana against Portugal and stood in the middle circle at the end of the game, looking very disappointed in the loss.

“Maybe it’s hard for some people to understand, but I think it’s totally possible to have two countries in your mind,” Addo said of Inaki. “Of course he had Ghana in his heart from day one. And Spain.”

The story behind the situation is inspiring, involving their parents’ decision to leave Ghana for a better life in Europe nearly 30 years ago.

When Felix and Maria Williams trekked barefoot through parts of the desert and over fences into Spain in the early 1990s, they never imagined that they would end up at the World Cup with their two sons. Maria was pregnant with Inaki at the time.

They settled in Bilbao and both boys grew up to become football players. They still play club football together for hometown team Athletic Bilbao.

The brothers’ careers have remained closely linked, even after Inaki decided to switch allegiance to Ghana this year and return to his homeland. Incredibly, it’s not the first time they’ve played for two different countries within 24 hours.

Inaki made his debut for Ghana on September 23 this year against Brazil, starting this time. A day later, Nico made his Spanish debut against Switzerland.

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