Manuel Akanji Biography
Manuel Akanji whose full name is Manuel Obafemi Akanji, is a Swiss footballer. He currently plays as a defender for the Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund and the Switzerland national football team.
Manuel Akanji started his career with the local club in Wiesendangen. He then moved to FC Winterthur, a club based near Zurich in May 2007. He played for the FC Winterthur Under-18 team during his early years at the club then the second team before finally making it to Winterthur’s starting eleven in the 2014–15 Challenge League.
After an impressive 2014-15 season in Switzerland’s second division, Akanji moved to Basel on 15 April 2015. He made his Swiss Super League debut against FC Lugano on 26 September 2015 coming in as a substitute. Akanji helped Basel win the Swiss Super League championship for both the 2015–16 Super League season and the 2016–17 Super League season. He also helped the club qualify to the round of 16 of the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League.
Akanji moved to Borussia Dortmund on 15 January 2018 on a four and a half year deal dated until June 2022.
Manuel Akanji made his debut for Switzerland U-20 national team on 7 September 2014 against the German U-20 national team. He made two appearances for the team. He made his debut for the Switzerland U-21 team on 26 March against the Italian U-21 team. He made his debut in the Switzerland national football team against Faroe Islands on 9 June 2017 in the World Cup qualification match. Akanji was included in the Switzerland national football team 23 man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Manuel Akanji Age
He was born on 19 July 1995 in Wiesendangen, Switzerland to a Nigerian father and a Swiss mother.
Manuel Akanji Father
Akanji’s father is a Nigerian financial expert who was an amateur footballer in his younger years and still plays the sport in his spare time.
Manuel Akanji Parents
Manuel Akanji was born to a Nigerian father and a Swiss mother.
Manuel Akanji Height
He stands at 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in).
Manuel Akanji Tatoos
Manuel Akanji has a tattoo on his left forearm with the words, “Prove them wrong,” in English. This is what Akanji says about the tatoo, “This saying has been a motto of mine for a long time. I had the tattoo done when I was injured as at times it wasn’t clear if I would ever fully heal.”
Manuel Akanji Girlfriend
Manual Akanji is in a relationship with Melanie Windler. They have been together since late 2015.
Manuel Akanji Net Worth
Manuel Akanji has an estimated net worth of $2 million.
Manuel Akanji Interview with Credit Suisse
Manuel Akanji, at the Swiss Football Awards, you were chosen as the 2017 Credit Suisse Rookie of the Year. Were you expecting to win?
Manuel Akanji: Not for a moment. After all, I was only able to play in the second half of the season due to a torn cruciate ligament. But on the eve of the awards ceremony, my fellow players on the national football team were going, “We bet the award goes to you.”
Your buddy, Breel Embolo, was given that honor two years ago. Has he offered his congratulations yet?
Manuel Akanji: Not yet. He probably needs to get over the fact that I now have as many awards as he does (laughs). But I’ll hear from him soon. We talk on the phone every week.
Was that your first award?
Manuel Akanji: At the age of 11, I won a national competition for young athletes, but that was for track and field. Besides that, I also used to play tennis. I didn’t start concentrating on football until I was 13.
Were you born with a talent for sports?
Manuel Akanji: Seems so. My dad was an amateur football player, and my older sister, Sara, played in the National League A until she established a women’s team for FC Winterthur last year. I watch those games whenever I can manage.
How do you react to stupid comments about women’s football?
Manuel Akanji: I don’t, because I never hear any. I think those days are over. Women’s football has gained quite a following.
Did your parents push you to get a real job? Not at all. They always supported my passion for sports. Yet, it was important to them that I finish my commercial apprenticeship. And I did that last year.
Why did you wait until you were 20 to switch from the Challenge League to FC Basel?
Manuel Akanji: As a junior, I was an average player. I never thought I would have a big career; I played just for the fun of it. When I hit 17, I had a growth spurt, and that boosted my performance. It was only then that I realized my potential.
Was it an advantage for you to mature in Winterthur?
Manuel Akanji: Maybe. I was able to develop my skills at my own pace. They let me play even when I was having a tough time instead of simply cutting me from the team. Big clubs have fierce competition, and many talented players are left behind. What’s amazing is that I am the only one my age on the senior national team.
What was the most emotional moment of the past season?
Manuel Akanji: The first match after my long injury was really emotional. As soon as I stood on the field, I had a tremendous feeling of euphoria, and any fear of another injury subsided. Of course, the cup victory against FC Sion was also something special.
In June, you had your debut on the national team. How were you received by the team?
Manuel Akanji: They welcomed me wholeheartedly. I’ve even been allowed to have a go on the Playstation and got to show the old hands how it’s really done.
Your father is from Nigeria. Have they asked you to play for their national team?
Manuel Akanji: Not that I’ve heard. Switzerland made an effort to keep me, so it was crystal clear that I would play here.
Who has been the strongest opposing player of your career so far?
Manuel Akanji: Breel Embolo. When we lost with Winterthur against FC Basel during the cup match in 2014, he mercilessly showed me how much I still needed to work on myself.
And who was the toughest?
Manuel Akanji: Simone Rapp from FC Thun. He is a giant who goes after every high ball and likes to provoke other players. You learn an awful lot in heated duels like that.
Do you always have yourself under control?
Manuel Akanji: I stay pretty cool. Last season, I only got two yellow cards.
The tattoo on your lower arm says “Prove them wrong.”
Manuel Akanji: That has been my motto for a long time now. I got the tattoo while I was on the injured list for almost a year. At the time, it was unclear whether I would ever completely recover and make it back on the team.
FC Basel’s former athletic director, Georg Heitz, defined the demands placed on a central defender by saying: “Physique, speed, dueling and heading skills, position play, launching attacks, and preferably the ability to play with both feet.” Can you do all that?
Manuel Akanji: I am pretty fast and okay at tackling and attacking. Besides that, I am practically two-footed. The things I could improve are my heading skills on offense and tactics on defense.
Georg Heinz also said, “If Akanji stays healthy, then he has limitless potential.” Do expectations that high put you under pressure?
Manuel Akanji: Why would they? I don’t feel any pressure at all. Things will happen the way they are meant to.
What do you expect from yourself?
Manuel Akanji: I want to stay healthy, go with Switzerland to the World Cup, and someday play for Manchester United.
And what advice do you have for young players dreaming of a career as professional athletes?
Manuel Akanji: Work hard every day, but never stop having fun playing the game. And, most importantly, have a life outside the playing field! You need to relax from time to time, get together with friends, pursue different hobbies, and clear your mind.