How Nico Williams inspired Athletic Bilbao to their first trophy in 40 years

How Nico Williams inspired Athletic Bilbao to their first trophy in 40 years

Nico Williams played an integral part for Athletic Bilbao as they defeated Mallorca on Saturday night to lift the Copa del Rey trophy, their first title in 40 years.

The Basque giants are the third most successful side in Spain behind Real Madrid and Barcelona. Success has however eluded them since 1984 when they last lifted the Copa del Rey after defeating Barcelona on that occasion.

Winning the cup competition was a big deal not just for Bilbao who had lost six subsequent finals since their 1984 triumph, but for Nico and brother Inaki who are both of Ghanaian descent and became the first black players and brothers to be integrated into the Athletic senior squad famed for only using players that grow up in the Basque Country.

It seemed Athletic’s dream for glory was going to fade after Daniel Rodriguez put Mallorca in front in the 21st minute. Bilbao were however able to level in 50th minute thanks to Nico assisting Oihan Sancet.

It was the 21-year-old’s 13th assist in all competitions this season, putting him level with the likes of Bukayo Saka and Kevin de Bruyne while being behind only Bayer Leverkusen duo Florian Wirtz and Alejandro Grimaldo.

The game went into penalties after ending 1-1 in extra time and both Nico and Inaki watched on as Manu Morlanes and Nemanja Radonjic missed for Mallorca while Bilbao scored all theirs for a 4-2 shootout win.

Nico has been heavily linked with a move away from San Mames after signing a contract extension until 2026 last year. He however said his future is committed to Bilbao.

“I have many years left here, I am calm and happy. I can’t wait to get to Bilbao to celebrate,” he said after the final.

Athletic are in the hunt for a Champions League place next season and will continue the chase in their La Liga home tie against Villarreal next Sunday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top Stories