Manuel Akanji chokes back tears as Xhaka shares tough love after Euro 2024 penalty miss

Granit Xhaka had solid words of advice for Manuel Akanji on Saturday (Image: Getty)

Manuel Akanji was visibly upset as he came out and faced the media after Switzerland’s gut-wrenching defeat to England. The Manchester City star’s miss in the penalty shootout proved costly as the Three Lions advanced to the Euro 2024 semi-finals.

Akanji had been a rock at the back for Switzerland on the run to the later rounds in Germany. But his tournament ended on a bitter note after Jordan Pickford saved his penalty in Dusseldorf.

All five England players converted from 12 yards, sending them through at Switzerland’s expense after a 1-1 stalemate at the end of extra-time. With red eyes and a croaky voice, Akanji said: “The disappointment is big now.

“It feels like I let the team down and let my whole country down. I tried to take responsibility, I had a good feeling I would score. But I showed [Pickford] the wrong corner and I didn’t shoot it precisely enough.”

With Kyle Walker and Phil Foden on the opposing team, Akanji had to watch on as his City team-mates celebrated knocking Switzerland out of Euro 2024. But the pair, along with one or two others in England’s ranks, showed their sportsmanship after Trent Alexander-Arnold’s winning penalty.

“Even players I’ve never played with came to speak to me afterwards,” Akanji continued. “I tried to say something back but the mood wasn’t the right one.

Manuel Akanji’s shootout penalty was saved by Jordan Pickford (Image: Getty)

“I wish them good luck for the tournament and I hope my Manchester City team-mates stay healthy. That’s the most important thing, and we’ll see how far they go.”

Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka was asked for his take on Akanji’s unsuccessful spot-kick, and the Arsenal man delivered a classy response. “It’s not the first one he’ll miss and it won’t be the last,” said the 31-year-old, handing his team-mate an important reality check.

“The player needs to be by himself for a bit first. But of course, Manu has the personality to be back stronger than ever. I know the feeling, I’ve had it before. These things make you stronger.

“If you don’t have this personality, you don’t play for a top club like Manchester City. He can be proud of himself. Forget the penalty, he played a great tournament and had a great season. I have a lot of respect for this guy.”

As Switzerland head home, England will soon turn their attention to a high-stakes semi-final against Holland, who beat Turkey 2-1 on Saturday night.