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‘He was a boy’ - Coach who gave Manuel Akanji debut opens up on Man City defender’s rise

Published on: 05 October 2022

Boro Kuzmanovic, the coach who gave Manuel Kanji his professional debut, has spoke of his pride in seeing his former player perform to peak levels on the biggest stage for Manchester City.

The defender has been a rock at the back for the Blues since his unexpected £15m deadline day switch from Borussia Dortmund. The 27-year-old was bought to aid in covering the club’s centre-half injury woes but has so far played every game he’s been available for.

In fact, he’s played every minute since missing the 3-0 win over Wolves due to the birth of his second child. As a result of his top tier displays, he has become one of the first names on Guardiola’s teamsheet in recent matches.

It marks a heroic career rise having started out at native Swiss side FC Winterthur in 2014. He has handed his first senior appearance aged 18 by Kuzmanovic in a 1-0 loss to FC Lugano in front of 2,000 fans.

Akanji was snapped up by Basel at the end of the season before his move to Borussia Dortmund in 2018. Kuzmanovic explained how he was thrilled to see him excelling and recalled the day he handed Akanji his professional bow.

“He was a boy convinced of his ability, a quiet type with a great personality,” he told RSI. “I made him debut in a match against Lugano, and even though he had hardly ever trained with the first-team, he had a great match.

“I am happy to see him on this type of stage, as I am for all the players I have managed and then find at a high level. I have seen many come through.

“It makes me proud to have represented a stage in their career and to have helped them along their path.”


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