This article unveils a detailed Biography of Manuel Akanji, providing a deep dive into his life in the following areas; his early years, upbringing, family history, parents – Isabel Akanji (his mother) and Abimbola Akanji (his father), Sisters – Michelle and Sarah, his wife Melanie Windler, their children, his lifestyle, net worth, and personal life.
Simply put, this is the tale of the footballer’s life journey, starting from his childhood days right up to his rise to stardom.
To give you a preview of his life story, we’ll explain his progression from boyhood to adulthood — an ideal introduction to our take on Manuel Akanji’s biography.
Indeed, it’s common knowledge that Manuel Akanji (like Lesley Ugochukwu) is of Nigerian descent and exemplifies the contemporary central defender. Also, he is a versatile defender like Josko Gvardiol.
However, a thorough account of Manuel Akanji’s biography remains unread by many football enthusiasts. We have put together such a narrative, which is sure to pique your interest.
Now, without any more delay, let’s dive in.
Manuel Akanji Childhood Facts:
To kick off this biography, it’s important to note that his full legal name is Manuel Obafemi Akanji.
The Swiss footballer was born on the 19th day of July 1995 to his parents, Isabel Akanji (his mother) and Abimbola Akanji (his father), in Neftenbach, a small town in Switzerland.
Manuel, the good-looking biracial child, entered the world as the second-born and first son of the Akanji family.
Young Manuel, like Benoit Badiashile and Amadou Onana, doesn’t underestimate the role of having female siblings. Akanji’s two sisters, known as Michelle and Sarah. All the children were raised in a home where a passion for sports was in their blood.
As children, Manuel, Sarah, and Michelle followed in the footsteps of their sports-loving parents, whom we will introduce in the next segment.
What are Manuel Akanji’s Family Origins?
First and foremost, the Swiss footballer is the son of a Swiss mother and a Nigerian father.
Manuel Akanji’s parents would not have met if his father had not decided to leave his financial job in Lagos, Nigeria, and relocate to Switzerland.
According to a report by Bundesliga, Abimbola Akanji is a Nigerian financial analyst who once dabbled in amateur football during his younger years.
On the other hand, his mother, Isabel Akanji, used to be a tennis player. Given this information, it’s clear that Manuel perfectly embodies his Swiss-African heritage.
Manuel Akanji’s Family Background:
Having a father who is a financial expert in one of Europe’s major financial hubs (Zurich) certainly suggests a comfortable upbringing.
Couple that with a mother who was a successful tennis player, and it becomes evident that Manuel Akanji hails from a family of notable status.
From early photographs, it’s clear that Manuel was the type of child whose parents were able to provide him with a wide range of sports equipment.
As a youngster, Manuel was fond of cycling. It’s also noteworthy that he has been a dedicated fan of Manchester United, despite his current affiliation with Manchester City.
Manuel Akanji’s Education during Childhood:
Like the majority of Swiss children, he started kindergarten at age four and primary school at age 6. From the beginning, education was highly valued by Manuel Akanji’s parents.
While at school, young Manuel gained recognition for his superior numerical skills and quick mental calculations. Reflecting on his academic experience, Akanji once mentioned:
“I found it enjoyable. Back then, if I saw a sign with several numbers, I would mentally create a variety of arithmetic problems from them. I also have a good memory for long numbers.
From fourth to sixth grade, I had a teacher who regularly organized mental arithmetic competitions. These contests were motivating for me, as I almost always emerged as the winner.”
Manuel Akanji Biography – Early Career Path:
As a child, Obafemi indulged in a great deal of football, playing during school recess and with pals once classes ended. From the beginning, his athletic inspiration was his Nigerian father, Abimbola.
The father, despite having had an unsuccessful career, was keen for his son to correct his mistakes and fulfil the Akanji family’s aspirations. In speaking about his father’s influence on his journey into football, Manuel once remarked:
“My father’s involvement in football captured my interest until I wanted to try it out for myself. I initially played both tennis and football. However, when football training became more demanding, I decided to leave tennis and focus solely on football.”
Manuel Akanji Biography – Formative Years in Football:
At the tender age of nine, young Manuel Akanji joined FC Wiesendangen, a local amateur sports team. Notably, he started his football journey playing as both a central midfielder and a winger.
Back then, he was renowned for being composed and collected, earning accolades at a very young age.
His outstanding performance with his initial academy didn’t go unnoticed, leading him to be recruited by FC Winterthur at the age of 11. This was a larger academy that competed in the Swiss football’s second tier.
At Winterthur, Manuel Akanji continued his upward progression through the youth levels, culminating in a successful graduation from the academy. It’s worth mentioning that he only transitioned to the position of a central defender around the age of 17.
Manuel Akanji Biography – Path to Prominence:
After completing his academy training, the Swiss footballer swiftly earned his place on Winterthur’s senior team due to his hard work and dedication.
Manuel Akanji’s family was overjoyed when he received his first national call-up to be a part of the Switzerland U-20 team. From that moment on, he knew he was destined for greatness.
His rapid progress with the national team didn’t go unnoticed by FC Basel, the most prestigious club in Switzerland, which signed Akanji in 2015.
During his stint at the club, the impressive central back played a crucial role in helping them secure a Swiss Cup and a Super League double. His accomplishments attracted the attention of scouts from some of the biggest European clubs.
Manuel Akanji Biography – Ascend to Stardom:
When Sokratis Papastathopoulos left for Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund began their search for a replacement capable of stepping into the Greek’s shoes.
Fortunately, Manuel Akanji was their final choice. His auspicious start with Dortmund led to a call-up for the 2018 World Cup, where he, along with Haris Seferović, Granit Xhaka, and Xherdan Shaqiri, helped Switzerland advance to the knockout stages.
At the time of penning Manuel Akanji’s biography, the central defender is viewed as a seasoned professional and one of the fastest players in the Bundesliga.
Since joining the German club, his career has flourished. Just a year after joining BVB, Obafemi played a pivotal role in helping the team secure the 2019 DFL Supercup.
It’s rare to find swift central defenders like Raphael Varane, but we’re thrilled to see a rising speed star in the form of Manuel Akanji.
On the Swiss national team, Manuel is an invaluable asset, similar to other footballers of African heritage, such as Denis Zakaria, Breel Embolo, and Noah Okafor.
It won’t be long before the Swiss footballer matures into a world-class talent. Manuel Akanji Man City‘s stats have become greater since he joined Pep Guardiola in 2022. It was in that 2022/2023 season that he, alongside notables like Ederson Morales, Rico Lewis, Phil Foden, etc, won the treble. The rest, as we say, is history.
Romantic Journey with Melanie Windler:
After working tirelessly to establish himself as a professional footballer, there came a point when the Swiss player desired someone who would become his other half.
He yearned for a girlfriend who would provide emotional stability, promote his personal growth, and contribute to his long-term development as a footballer.
Manuel Akanji’s Persistence in Love:
Around five years ago, during the time this biography is being written, the Swiss footballer crossed paths with a beautiful young woman named Melanie Windler.
Their initial encounter sparked a friendship, and an eager Akanji mustered up the courage to ask her out on a date. Unfortunately, his enthusiasm got the best of him, and he was turned down.
However, Akanji’s romantic pursuit did not end there. Despite the initial rejection, he remained determined. Just three days after their first meeting, Melanie Windler embarked on a four-month student exchange program in the United States. Undeterred, Manuel Akanji continued to pursue her from a distance.
“I waited for her,” the footballer shared, with a laugh. “My patience paid off, and I eventually won her heart.”
Melanie Windler officially became Manuel Akanji’s girlfriend in September 2015. Interestingly, this coincided with the time when Akanji joined FC Basel, a period when he had yet to achieve fame.
The Proposal between Manuel Akanji and Melanie Windler:
In the latter part of 2018, precisely on September 28th, the Swiss footballer mustered up the courage to take their relationship to the next level. Obafemi proposed to Melanie, his beloved girlfriend. He publicly announced the joyous news on Instagram, accompanied by the caption:
“She is the one💍”
Manuel Akanji and Melanie Windler sealed their love with a beautiful wedding ceremony held on June 23, 2019, in Mallorca, the largest island in Spain. The event was attended by their teammates, close friends, and family members, who joined in celebrating their union.
Since becoming a couple, Manuel Akanji and Melanie have been regularly seen enjoying their lives together in popular European seaside destinations. From their photos, it is evident that they are about to embark on the journey of parenthood.
At the time of writing this biography, the Swiss footballer and his wife are proud parents of a baby boy named Aayden Malik Adebayo Akanji.
The inclusion of the middle name “Adebayo” raises questions about whether Manuel Akanji follows the Muslim faith. It is worth noting that their son, Aayden Akanji, was born during the coronavirus pandemic, adding a unique aspect to their parenting journey.
Manuel Akanji’s Lifestyle:
For the footballer, money holds great importance and symbolizes the reward for his hard work. In this section, we will explore how Manuel Akanji utilizes his weekly wage of €48,000 and his annual salary of €2.5 million.
Manuel Akanji Cars:
Akanji is known for his sense of style and has a preference for matching outfits, including ones that complement the colour of his car. As seen in the photos, he often wears white clothing that matches his white Range Rover.
The footballer has a fondness for the colour white, but when he’s not dressed in an all-white car and clothing ensemble, you can often spot him in his second favourite colour, which is black.
The Power Wheels:
Manuel Akanji has a passion for powerful wheels, and there’s nothing quite like seeing a footballer riding a sleek and stylish four-wheeled power bike. It adds an extra touch of coolness to his persona, both on and off the pitch.
When you take a glimpse at his impressive collection of automobiles, it becomes evident that Manuel has a flair for glamorous rides that reflect his personality and style.
Manuel Akanji Family Life:
Manuel Akanji comes from a close-knit multiracial family that radiates love and warmth. They are known as one of the most famous Swiss-Nigerian families, and they recently captured a beautiful moment together in their family home in Wiesendangen, Switzerland.
Let’s delve into some interesting facts about Manuel Akanji’s parents, starting with his Nigerian father.
About Manuel Akanji’s Father:
Manuel Akanji’s father, Abimbola, is affectionately known as “Abi” among family and friends. He is a financial expert who studied economics and currently works with ABB, a renowned Swiss energy and automation technology company.
From 2007 to 2010, Abimbola had the opportunity to work in his home country of Nigeria. During this time, he took his family along and introduced them to their extended relatives, allowing Manuel and his siblings to connect with their Nigerian heritage.
Despite his own athletic background, Abimbola has no regrets about leaving his sporting pursuits behind. He finds great joy in spending quality time with his children and witnessing their remarkable success in the world of sports.
Regarding Manuel Akanji’s Mother:
Isabel Akanji is the adored matriarch of the most recognized Swiss-Nigerian clan. The mother of three was an athlete herself, having initially pursued tennis before transitioning into volleyball. Isabel’s path crossed with Abimbola Akanji, her future husband, during a linguistic trip in the United States.
Regarding Manuel Akanji’s Sisters:
The notable Swiss footballer, Manuel Akanji, shares his family with two sisters, Sarah and Michelle. He doesn’t have any brothers. Born in 1993, Sarah, Manuel’s older sister, is two years his senior.
Michelle, on the other hand, is six years younger than Manuel. Following is a charming snapshot of Manuel’s sisters, who bear a striking resemblance to him.
All three Akanji siblings have a passion for sports. Michelle, the youngest, is an athlete. Sarah Akanji, the oldest sibling and much like Manuel, is a footballer who specializes in defence.
Her football career includes playing for FC Winterthur and FC St. Gallen in the premier Swiss women’s league. Both Sarah and Manuel share a tight bond, greatly attributed to their shared love for football.
The Akanji family and their involvement in Swiss politics:
Did you know that Sarah Akanji holds roles beyond the football field? She also has a foothold in Swiss local politics, having previously participated in elections for the Swiss canton council.
As we detail Manuel Akanji’s life story, it’s worth noting that his sister Sarah has recently been named a member of the Cantonal Council of Zurich.
Clearly, the parents of Manuel Akanji have not only brought into the world two footballers and an athlete but also a budding politician in the form of Sarah.
Regarding his Personal Life:
Manuel Akanji is foremostly recognized as a children’s rights advocate and a person who separates self-assuredness from pretentiousness.
His demeanour might be deemed brusque by some fans, but there is nothing inauthentic, smug, or vainglorious about him.
Additionally, the Swiss Centre-Back is known for his outstanding linguistic abilities. He has command over English, French, and German, with Spanish being the only notable exception.
In conclusion, Manuel Akanji enjoys seaside vistas, has a fondness for card games, appreciates basketball, and fervently supports the Nigerian national team.
Contrasting his Earnings with an Average Citizens (Dortmund Earnings):
A typical German citizen, earning a monthly income of 3,770 euros, would have to labour for nearly seven years to match Akanji’s monthly remuneration. On the other hand, an average Swiss citizen would need to work for a duration of three years to equal his monthly salary.
The Connection between his Middle Name ‘Obefemi’ and his Haircut:
The unique design of his haircut, particularly the shaved crown, has ties to his Nigerian ancestry.
Upon closer inspection, one can observe the prominently shaved crown in his hairstyle. This isn’t representative of a trophy but rather a physical reflection of his Yoruba middle name, ‘Obafemi’, from Nigeria. Manuel Akanji is Yoruba just like Rasheedat Ajibade and Asisat Oshoala.
His parents gave him the Yoruba name ‘Obafemi’, translating to ‘Beloved by the King’. Thus, his signature shaved crown serves as a symbol of his Nigerian roots.
Interpreting Manuel Akanji’s Tattoos:
The most prominent tattoo is the inscription ‘Prove Them Wrong’. Manuel Akanji chose this phrase during an 11-month hiatus from football due to a Torn Cruciate Ligament.
The tattoo was intended to challenge his doubters, particularly those who believed his career was finished and others who doubted his return to form after the injury.
The second most notable tattoo, situated on his chest, was dedicated to his family. The phrase ‘Family is Where Life Begins and Love never ends’ is etched, underlining his deep affection for his family.
Possible Paths if Football Hadn’t Been Successful:
During his time in the youth academy, the Swiss defender also pursued part-time studies. Upon finishing school in Switzerland at the age of 15, Manuel Akanji’s parents urged him to undertake an apprenticeship program to become a merchant.
Their intention was to ensure he had an alternative career path if football didn’t pan out. Fortunately for Manuel, football proved to be a successful path.
Undeniably, Manuel Akanji, who is Man City’s bargain of the season (2022/2023), is a prodigious talent with the attributes of an outstanding versatile defender.
We invite you to share your thoughts about our coverage and the footballer himself in the comments section. We appreciate you taking the time to read the life story of this extraordinary defender.
Stay tuned for more Swiss and European Football Stories. From the Swiss side, you’ll enjoy the story of Zeki Amdouni. The life history of Felix Nmecha and Romeo Lavia (from the European point of view) is very interesting.