Former Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana has blamed fear and naivety for the Dutch giants’ Europa League final loss to Manchester United back in 2017.
United won by two goals to nil courtesy of goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba.
That was the last trophy United won before winning the Carabao Cup last month.
Onana spoke to DAZN and revealed that Ajax were intimidated by the stature of United and the superstar players the club boasted off.
The Cameroonian said, “I lost the Europa League final because of fear, we lost that game before we even played it. We had to play against Manchester United, we arrived in Stockholm, where the 2017 final was being played. In training, I called Van der Sar and told him ‘I wasn’t well, I’m not playing this final.”
“He answered me by saying ‘I am old and I don’t have gloves, you go and play this game’. I was 19 years old. We woke up on the morning of the game with seven sick players. We were young.”
“We were in the tunnel, I saw De Gea just behind me, six months earlier I was playing PlayStation using him. And now I’m playing against him. I had recently been promoted to the first team at Ajax.”
Onana added, “Also in the tunnel, Amin Younes, one of the most important players we had, came up to me and said: Did you see Valencia’s arm? Phew, I can’t play against him!”
Onana remarked that he learnt a lot from that Europa final loss.
He swore to himself that he would never play in fear again no matter the circumstances or the opponent.
The Inter Milan shot-stopper expressed his appreciation at the United encounter and how it shaped him to become a better player.
Now playing alongside the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Edin Dzeko, Nicolo Barella and even Mkhitaryan, Onana is unlikely to be intimidated by De Gea or any other United star should their paths cross again.
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