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Athletic Club's Iñaki Williams played with shard of glass in his foot for 2 years

5/24: CBS Morning News
5/24: CBS Morning News 21:50

Ghanaian soccer star Iñaki Williams unknowingly played two years with a two-centimeter shard of glass in his left foot, his coach revealed Friday.

Williams, who plays his club soccer for the Spanish side Athletic Club, underwent surgery on Tuesday to treat a painful scar on his left foot. It was then that they discovered a piece of glass embedded in the sole of his foot.

Spain Soccer Copa del Rey
Athletic Bilbao's Inaki Williams celebrates scoring his side's third goal during the Copa del Rey quarterfinals soccer match against Barcelona on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. Alvaro Barrientos / AP

During a press conference on Friday, Athletic Club coach Ernesto Valverde said his player had permitted him to tell the story because "it is worth telling." He said the 29-year-old player was on vacation two years ago when he stepped on glass, resulting in a deep wound on his foot.

"Iñaki Williams has broken a record for consecutive games played and has won a Copa del Rey while having a two-centimeter glass stuck in the sole of his foot," Valverde said.

The coach said Williams was reporting discomfort in his scar and went to get treatment after the Copa del Rey final on April 6.

"He had an MRI and he still had a glass stuck in the sole of his foot," Valverde said, adding: "The doctor and I started laughing because we couldn't believe it."

He said the piece of glass was reaching a tendon on Williams' foot.

Williams posted a photo on his Instagram story on Friday showing the piece of glass that had been removed.

Williams played a La Liga record run of 251 games for Athletic before getting injured in January 2023. This season, he has scored 14 goals in 39 appearances in all competitions. He helped Athletic Bilbao win the Copa del Rey final against RCD Mallorca alongside his younger brother, Nico Williams.

"As an older brother, it makes me really proud to see how he has grown, to see how he is improving as a footballer. He has no ceiling," Iñaki Williams told BBC Sport ahead of the Copa del Rey. "I'm here to help him, to teach him and give him everything he needs."

Athletic Club v Real Mallorca - Copa Del Rey Final
Athletic Club's Iñaki Williams and Nico Williams of Athletic Club celebrate following their team's victory in the Copa Del Rey Final against Real Mallorca on April 06, 2024 in Seville, Spain. Photo by Cristian Trujillo/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

The brothers opened up in late April about the racist insults they've had to endure while playing professionally in Spain – specifically after they lost to Atletico Madrid on April 27.

Nico Williams told reporters he was targeted by "monkey" shouts while he took a corner kick in the first half at Metropolitano Stadium, The Associated Press reported.

"I heard the monkey sounds, but it is always the same two or three people. We have to keep working on this. I hope one day it will stop," the 21-year-old Nico said.

Iñaki Williams said fans jeered and booed his brother after he responded to the incident by tapping his forearm in reference to his skin color after scoring a goal.

"They jeered him every time he touched the ball," Iñaki said. "I can't understand that. They should jeer the aggressors, not the victim."

The Spanish league has been unable to stop repeated acts of verbal racist attacks against players. The first trial against a fan accused of racial abuse in Spanish professional soccer is waiting to be scheduled. It will judge the racist insults Iñaki Williams received from an Espanyol supporter during a 2020 match.

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