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Switzerland manager issues 140-word message to Manchester City defender after shoot-out heartache



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Murat Yakin has revealed his message to Manchester City’s Manuel Akanji following the defender’s penalty shoot-out agony.

The 28-year-old suffered heartbreak during Saturday’s European Championship quarter-final against England at the Merkur Spiel-Arena in Düsseldorf, as Jordan Pickford saved the Manchester City defender’s penalty during a dramatic last-eight shoot-out.

Switzerland suffered a 5-3 defeat on penalties to Gareth Southgate’s side, with England having equalised in the 80th minute through Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, after Breel Embolo rolled the Swiss into a 75th minute lead.

Akanji had helped Switzerland reach the quarter-finals with a series of impressive performances, playing all five matches for Murat Yakin’s side at the tournament in Germany across June and July.

The centre-back also featured 48 times for Manchester City during the recent 2023/24 campaign, helping Pep Guardiola’s side retain the Premier League title alongside silverware success in the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

The Swiss defender moved to the Etihad Stadium from Borussia Dortmund for £15 million, and helped Manchester City to a landmark treble during his maiden campaign in east Manchester.

Revealing his message to Akanji after the shoot-out agony in Saturday, Switzerland boss Yakin said: “You give responsibility to your players, and you can’t be angry at them afterwards – players who played a fantastic tournament, especially Manu.

“What can you say to him? Well, there’s not many words of solace. It doesn’t matter, no. I said ‘thank you’ to him for his performance, and also how he led the team, how he performed. This was really on the highest level.

“Of course, there’s deep emptiness, deep sadness. But this is the kind of sadness where everybody, every individual, has to work through it.

“It’s incredible. But these moments are part of the business. It is a missed penalty. And now, he doesn’t need to be bothered anymore about it when you see how he played, the responsibility he carried on his shoulders.”

Speaking after the penalty miss, Akanji said: “The disappointment is big. It feels like I let the team down and let the whole country down. I tried to take responsibility and had a good feeling that I would score but I shot in the wrong corner and I didn’t shoot it precise enough.”

Portugal also suffered a quarter-final exit to France on penalties, meanwhile Spain progressed to the semi-finals with a 119th minute goal against host nation Germany.