Spain forward Nico Williams shut down his social media accounts after a wave of insults from fans following his misses in Athletic Bilbao’s elimination in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey.
Athletic was eliminated by Osasuna 2-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw in extra time at San Mamés Stadium in Bilbao on Tuesday.
Athletic won 1-0 in regulation, but Williams squandered a couple of great chances to increase the lead and possibly seal the team’s spot in the final.
The 20-year-old forward missed over the crossbar from close range, with only the goalkeeper to beat following a breakaway in the 70th minute and couldn’t find the net from inside the area in the 87th.
Late substitute Pablo Ibanez scored the decisive goal for Osasuna with a volley from the edge of the area in the 116th to send the Pamplona club to the final for the first time since 2005.
Williams decided to deactivate his accounts following “the hard blow of the elimination from the Copa and the subsequent pressure by some users in the form of insults and lack of respect on social media,” the player’s staff said in a statement on Wednesday.
Williams thanked the fans who supported him after the match and following the insults.
“We all need to work together to eradicate this type of attitude from social media,” the statement said.
The crowd at San Mamés was mostly supportive of Williams when he was substituted in the 99th, but many later took to social media to criticise him for his misses. Several messages were insulting and derogatory.
Athletic was trying to reach the Copa final for the third time in four seasons. The Basque Country club is the second most successful team in the competition with 23 titles, but it hasn’t lifted the trophy since 1984.
“It’s normal for my brother to be upset, we are all upset,” said Athletic forward Iñaki Williams, who is Nico’s older brother. “We were on the verge of another final, and we have been eliminated.
“My brother has a great future, and he will be able to learn from this,” said Inaki Williams, who scored Tuesday. “He needs to lift his head and move on.”
Nico Williams first made it to Spain’s national team with coach Luis Enrique and recently was also called up by new coach Luis de la Fuente.
“He had two clear chances, but he is a young player, and he still has a lot to learn,” Athletic coach Ernesto Valverde said. “You don’t know everything when you are 20 years old. He will keep learning.”
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