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Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana: Black keepers have to work harder

18:44 SAST 2019/05/06
Andre Onana Ajax
The Cameroon international has been impressive for the Sons of the Gods and recently won his first trophy with the side

Ajax Amsterdam goalkeeper Andre Onana says black goalkeepers must work harder than their white counterparts to get to the top of European football.

The 23-year-old has been outstanding for the Sons of the Gods since joining the side from Barcelona in 2015 and recently won the Dutch Cup with them.

He has also been a consistent performer for Ajax in the Champions League, and hopes to become the first black goalkeeper to play in the final of Europe's top club competition since 2007, when AC Milan won the trophy with Brazilian Dida in goal.

Additionally, the Cameroon international has dismissed the suggestion that black goalkeepers make more errors than white stoppers.

"I don't see the difference between white and black goalkeepers," he told BBC Sport.

"They're the same - they make mistakes. I make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes. Black keepers need to prepare well because it's not easy for us.

"We don't have a lot of black goalkeepers at the top and people already have in their mind that black goalkeepers are not confident or they make too many mistakes.

"It's something we have to change. It's not easy for us to arrive at that level especially when you are black but for me it really doesn't matter - black or white, in the end I am a goalkeeper."

Onana explained how club legend and former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who is now the CEO of the club, has helped him with his development.

"We talk more when I make mistakes because when you win, even if you make mistakes, no one is going to talk about that mistake," he continued.

"Nobody wants to lose but sometimes you have to lose to learn. When you are playing at a high level, I think the key is to be calm.

"It doesn't matter what happens because if you are calm you are going to absorb the pressure. Don't think too much about the game. Relax. Take your time.

"When you have the ball, you are the boss. You decide what you are going to do."

After winning the first leg 1-0 away from home, Onana is hoping Ajax can seal their place in the final of the Champions League by defeating Tottenham in the second leg on Wednesday.

"We didn't expect to arrive in the semi-final and now we are here, we are going to fight to go to the final and win," he added.

"We played against great opponents. Bayern Munich was not easy, we played against Benfica, Real Madrid and Juventus.

"It would be great for this young team but it's something very, very difficult but I hope we are going to make it."

Onana’s impressive performances for Ajax have seen him linked away from the Dutch side and he has not ruled out a move back to Spain, where he started his European career with Barcelona at the age of 13.

"Barcelona is my home. When I go there all the doors are open. It's normal because I was there since I was young," he said.

"Everyone would love to go to Barcelona but for me it's important to play. I am happy when I play so I will try to play somewhere."

Onana will be expected to play a key role for Cameroon in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, which will kick off on June 21.

The Indomitable Lions are in F along with Benin, Ghana and Guinea-Bissau.