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💙 "He's a special character"

Royals boss Mark Bowen speaks openly about the character of cup tie hero Yakou Meite...

27 January 2020

Yakou Meite paid tribute to his father after scoring the equaliser that kept the Royals in the Emirates FA Cup with a 1-1 draw against Cardiff City on Saturday. And Royals boss Mark Bowen rightly paid tribute to Yakou himself after the tie...

“He had the very sad news last week, finding out straight after the Millwall game that he’d lost his dad," Bowen told the media after Saturday's 1-1 draw.

“It was a shock to him, a shock to all of us. The squad got around him and then he went back to France and they had the funeral this week.

"His dad was his biggest supporter and a big supporter of the club. I was in constant contact with Yakou throughout last week and he was desperate to come back and play on Saturday. 

"In training on Friday, you could see that he was a little bit distant because he’s got thoughts in other places, with his family. But he wanted to come back and play. 

“And that shows the character of the man. He showed his professionalism and worked to the 95th minute. He worked and chased, and for him to get his goal… I had a lump in my throat as well. I'm proud of him.

"We’re all thinking of him at this time – and his celebration, I understand the rules, he takes his shirt off and he gets a yellow card.

“But on this occasion, so what! It was important for him to have this celebration. And he’s all in our thoughts at the moment because he’s going through a difficult time.

“It’s been a brutal week for him. He’s got a great bunch of teammates around him and people around who care for him and we’ll give him all the support we can.

“Yakou comes in every day with a smile on his face. He's a special character. For him to go out there on Saturday and put in the performance that he did. It showed him for the man he is.

“I’ve always believed that what footballers love most is being out on the grass. So maybe the game has helped him in that recovery in some way – he scored a great goal of course.

"We all felt his pain because we’re a close knit bunch, the players and the staff as well. He knows we’re there for him and we will give him all the support he needs."

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