'Nation's idiot' - Leeds United man opens up on France horror show, memes and team's response

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Leeds United's Max Wöber says his team-mates and loved ones have put him back on track after feeling like the ‘nation’s idiot’ thanks to his performance against France.

Wöber scored the own goal that decided Austria's opening EURO 2024 fixture against France, but that mistake simply compounded a number of others before he was hooked by Ralf Rangnick. He was guilty of a wayward pass that set France on a dangerous break, went off his feet in a risky challenge to earn a booking, headed Kylian Mbappé's cross into his own net and bundled Antoine Griezmann into advertising boards to leave the Frenchman bloody and walk a disciplinary tightrope.

But despite acknowledging he was the 'nation's idiot' Wöber wanted to address his performance in Tuesday's press conference in Berlin and insist he was already over it.

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"It was a bitter evening for me personally," he said. "Now I've had the whole night to process it. The whole team and the coaching staff, family and friends have put me back on the right track, so that I'm positive again and can still record it as a proud moment in my career to have played for Austria at the EURO and sung the national anthem shoulder to shoulder with my friends. It's still a moment I'll never forget. That's exactly what I'll take with me now, I'll forget the rest."

The left-sided defender admitted he was 'extremely bitter' after the game having felt like he had let the 'whole nation' down, but appearing at the press conference alongside Stefan Posch was part of Wöber's effort to put it all firmly behind him. He said: "After a game like that, where you're the nation's idiot, it's not a bad thing to stand up and do your part so that the whole thing is over and I can concentrate fully on the EURO again."

He paid tribute to his team-mates, who helped him reach a place, mentally, where he could appreciate the jokes being aimed in his general direction. "That it's football, that it's part of it and we win and lose as a team," he said, of the dressing room's message. "And that's exactly how it is. After a sleepless night, I can now laugh again at certain photos and memes. Of course you want to make amends or show that you can do better. I don't think I'll score another slapstick own goal in the next few games."

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Austria play again on Friday night against Poland in Group D, hoping to climb off the bottom of the table. Wöber's club future remains very much up in the air and a matter that is not likely to be resolved until after EURO 2024. He was one of several players to take advantage of a release clause in his contract last summer following Leeds' relegation from the Premier League and secured a loan move to Borussia Mönchengladbach, who finished just a single point above the Bundesliga's relegation play-off spot. It is not yet known if Leeds will be open to a return for the 26-year-old, in the same way that they will welcome Brenden Aaronson back into the fold this summer. Wöber was one of a small number of players who the club believed would stay and fight to return Leeds to the Premier League at the first time of asking and he was even appointed captain for a pre-season friendly against Barnsley, before his July 31 move to Germany.

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