Inaki Williams, the Athletic Club striker, born in Bilbao, has won the LaLiga Santander Mid-Season African MVP Award.
The 28-year-old forward, who was born in Bilbao and has strong African roots, has spent his entire professional career with Athletic Bilbao, scoring 80 goals in 362 appearances for Los Leones (The Lions) since making his LaLiga debut for Athletic as an 18-year-old teenager.
The award recognizes and celebrates outstanding African players competing in LaLiga, and Williams was a convincing winner after a public vote and votes cast by a number of leading sports journalists from across the African continent.
The extraordinary streak of 251 straight LaLiga games for Athletic Bilbao ended when Williams was forced to miss Athletic’s LaLiga match against RC Celta due to a muscle ailment. Williams recently made international headlines – for not being on the field.
His incredible streak began on 7 April 2016, and he set a new record for the most consecutive LaLiga appearances in October 2021 after 203 straight games, surpassing Real Sociedad’s Juanan Larraaga’s 202.
Williams’ incredible streak came to an end this weekend when he missed the RC Celta game, ending an incredible run of 2,468 days and nearly seven years without missing a league game for Athletic.
Macros Pelegrin statement over Inaki
“Iaki Williams is a well-liked and deserving recipient of the LaLiga Santander Mid Season African MVP Award. He has long established himself as a superb footballer whose name will be permanently inscribed in the LaLiga history books.The award recognizes the enormous contribution made by so many world-class African players to LaLiga over the years, as well as the enormous growth of LaLiga among Africa’s passionate football fans. “We congratulate Iaki on this award and thank everyone who took part in this popular competition,” said Marcos Pelegrin, Managing Director of LaLiga Southern Africa.
Williams, a huge fan favorite, is a vital part of the fabric of his childhood club and one of Athletic Club’s biggest stars and most important players. Williams, known for his spectacular and important goals for the club, has been one of the team’s stars during a solid LaLiga Santander 2022/23 season.
His remarkable performances for Ghana at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, when the Black Stars beat South Korea 3-2 then lost to Portugal by the same score, earned him numerous honors and MVP votes.
Williams, a Basque-born player with dual Spanish and Ghanaian citizenship, chose to represent Ghana, the birthplace of both his parents, on the international stage.
The LaLiga Santander African MVP Award is now in its second season, and Williams defeated a number of top African players to win the Mid Season Award.
Yassine Bounou of Sevilla FC won the inaugural LaLiga Santander African MVP Award last season after leading Morocco to a historic first African semi-final spot at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Reinildo Mandava, a Mozambican winger for Diego Simeone’s Atletico de Madrid, has been another strong African performer in LaLiga this season.
Inaki WIlliams and other competitive players from the region
This season, RC Celta’s Ghanaian center back Joseph Aidoo, Rayo Vallecano’s Pathé Ciss, Villarreal CF winger Nicolas Jackson, and Real Betis right back Youssouff Sabaly have all impressed with consistent football in over 10 hours on the pitch.
Meanwhile, Dakonam Djené of Togo, one of the league’s longest-serving African players, has been consistent at the heart of Getafe CF’s defense this season.
Inaki Williams will now hope to recover quickly from his injury so that he can return to the pitch and compete for the LaLiga Santander African MVP Award at the end of the season.