Friday 23 March 2018

'We play for the people who died' - Paul Pogba's emotional tribute after Europa League triumph

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Paul Pogba and Juan Mata dedicated Manchester United’s Europa League final win against Ajax to the victims of the Manchester bombing, as emotions flowed at the Friends Arena in Stockholm.

Goals from Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan secured United their second major trophy of the season and, significantly, a place in next season’s Champions League, with manager Jose Mourinho overcome by emotion at the final whistle.

Mourinho was not alone in emphasising the significance of the victory, in a week when the City of Manchester has been plunged into mourning after the terror attack that saw 22 souls perish on Monday night.

Amid his joy, Pogba took time to pay tribute to those who had lost their lives, as he spoke to BT Sport.

"These things are terrible all over the world, not only in Manchester but in London and in Paris," he stated.

We had to focus because this was a very important game. We work for them, we work for the country. We play for England, for Manchester and we play for them, for the people who died."

Juan Mata echoed those sentiments, as he offered up these words in his post match interview.

"It has been a really difficult week in the city of Manchester and we are happy to win for all the people that have suffered," said the Spaniard.

"We have won a trophy the club has never won so we are really happy. It means a lot as it is my first European trophy with United and after what happened yesterday it is nice to bring a trophy back for Manchester."

Mkhitaryan was happy to fulfil his colleagues' prophecies after helping the Red Devils reach the Stockholm showpiece with five European goals this term.

The Armenian said: "Thank you to my team-mates because without them I couldn't score so many goals. I'm happy that I scored here today in the final because everyone was saying, 'You're going to score in the final' and after the last game against Celta Vigo I was dreaming about scoring in the final and I did.

"We were fighting in two races: the Premier League and the Europa League. In the Premier League we couldn't hit the target to go to the Champions League but tonight we gave all our effort and now we're playing in the Champions League."

Juan Mata added: "It's massive for us. We came here with one option - to win the trophy that the club had never won and we did it so we are happy.

"It was a great final and my first European final with United, hopefully the first of many.

"Especially after what happened (in Manchester) we wanted to win this and we'll bring the trophy back.

"It was a very difficult week for a lot of us and for the city of Manchester and we tried to win for all the people who have suffered. This trophy is for them."

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