Nico Williams: “Dibbling is like playing as a child in the park again” | Soccer | Sports
Nico Williams appears at the Las Rozas Football City with the confidence of a veteran. He understands how to move, he knows the message he wants to convey. He is only 21 years old and has played 10 games (and scored two goals) for the senior team. Cheerful and approachable, open and talkative, the Athletic striker, who was left out of the game against Scotland due to back discomfort, is one of the key players for Luis de la Fuente and for the future of La Roja.
Ask. Do you think about what you are going to do on the field? Can you imagine plays?
Answer. Yes, I do think about it. At home, I like to see my plays from the previous game. It helps me know what to do, how to move in the field. It is important to learn from mistakes.
P. In dribbling, how much is instinct and how much is study?
R. Before each game they give me a tablet with the actions of the rival left or right back, it depends on where I play. But on the field I don’t notice if he has positioned himself one way or another. I would say it comes out on its own. Dribbling is in my blood. It’s instinct, a gift that God has given me. And it turns out pretty well, I think. I am a neighborhood boy, I have always been playing in the street. I even did it with my brother (Iñaki, Athletic player) and his friends.
P. But Iñaki is eight years older.
R. Yes. I remember an anecdote that I don’t think you’d mind me telling. I was very little, I was 10 years old, and we went to play in the park with his friends. We made teams and my brother was on one side and I was on the other. Iñaki stung me: “You’re not going to do anything, you’ll see with the older ones… You don’t have to play because they’re going to beat you up.” And in the end we ended up winning. His colleagues came to play with me. They didn’t want to play with him anymore.
P. Who did you look at when you were little?
R. I have always liked Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar. I watched a lot of videos of Cristiano from when he played for United. I also really liked his first stage in Madrid. I saw the highlights, how they moved. Then I practiced his dribbling in training.
P. Does dribbling give you joy?
R. For born dribblers, like me, like Vinicius or Balde… it is a satisfaction when you go away from the opponent or when you make a bicycle and leave the defender behind. It’s something we like a lot. Dribbling is like playing again as a child in the park.
P. Between doing three or four dribbles and scoring an average rebound goal, what do you prefer?
R. I prefer the goal. Goals are loves.
P. What if they are already winning 3-0?
R. Wow! That makes it difficult for me… But I would say the goal.
P. He used to play on the right until Luis Enrique switched him to the left. Did it cost him?
R. The first time it seemed quite strange to me. I was not used to it. But I think the change has benefited me. I have played on the right wing all my life, and it was a change that I think I needed. On the right wing, I have more positions to center. Instead, on the left, to shoot. I use my left leg well, but for me it is better to play on a different wing. I can go inside and shoot. I feel more comfortable on the left wing. I turn better and handle spaces better.
P. He has sometimes said that Luis Enrique slowed him down a bit. What does De la Fuente ask of you?
R. I am a very unbalanced player on the wing and De la Fuente gives me more ball to face. Luis Enrique’s is a more combinative game. And, in that style of football, sometimes I had to stop with him. But it helped me learn: you don’t always have to face it. You have to have a little pause. Luis Enrique has helped me a lot in that aspect. Now I have it very internalized: when to face, when to stop, when to give a pass or when to throw a wall.
P. Has a coach stopped your creativity?
R. No, I have never had a coach tell me not to do what I do well. Everyone has told me to go ahead, that if I don’t see anything, to go ahead, that I have incredible driving, that I can take two or three or four, and that I have to take advantage of what God has given me, because I can generate superiorities.
P. Someone who has the mission of disorder, how does he coexist with tactical order?
R. It’s not as easy as before, when I debuted no one knew me. I had an easier time compared to my rivals. Today they are getting to know me more and I have more and more help. The center back, the winger, the pivot comes to me, and it is a difficult situation to face. But that’s when you have to keep in mind that if there are a lot of people near you it’s because a partner has been left alone. What I often do is attract many players to download to another site so that it reaches the player who is alone.
P. If it’s his brother, the better.
R. If it reaches my brother and he can score a goal, the better.
P. From time to time he is seen demanding that he give it to him.
R. There is that trust. Saying something to your brother is not the same as saying something to another player. I also reproach him for things sometimes. More than brothers, we are friends.
P. Do you feel more liberated in the national team without the figure of the older brother on the field?
R. I’ve never seen myself like this. In the end I play soccer with my brother and I have to enjoy it.
P. Is it true that Iñaki doesn’t like his hair?
R. Does not like. She always tells me: ‘When are you going to take away the fries?’
P. But he’s not going to take them away.
R. No, I always tell him no, I’m never going to take them off. It’s already like a hallmark of mine. I feel more comfortable with this. I have never liked wearing my hair the way, for example, Bucket does. He thought: I need something new in my life. I decided on this. And it’s OK.
P. He gets along very well with Bucket. Does that help on the field?
R. When you know a person more as a friend, you understand each other much better in the field. With Balde I complement myself very well. In training he knows how I’m going to move, I know how he’s going to move.
P. There is talk of other clubs’ interest in signing him. Can you imagine playing somewhere other than Bilbao?
R. I am very happy in Bilbao. I have my parents, my friends, and I love the city. Maybe it never happens and I will stay in Bilbao all my life. You never know the future. Every child has goals and objectives and dreams. At the moment, I am fulfilling mine: being in the Spanish team, being in Bilbao and, above all, playing with my brother.
P. Did Iñaki make you see that the path was easier?
R. Both in life and in football, Iñaki has opened many paths for me. Not just me. It has also opened an important path for black people, Africans in Bilbao. He has left a legacy. Before you couldn’t see black players in Athletic, and today there are a lot of kids who are in the youth team. Before, my brother and I were there. Today you can see a Latino, a Moroccan, or a Guinean. He is a mix of cultures. And I think my brother has made it possible. He makes me very happy.
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