Stockholm, Sweden, May 25 – Paul Pogba dedicated Manchester United’s Europa League title triumph on Wednesday to the 22 people killed in Monday’s terror attack in Manchester, saying: “We played for the people who died.”
An emotional evening in Stockholm began with a moment of silence and applause, in memory of those killed at a concert at Manchester Arena, before goals from Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan clinched a 2-0 victory over Ajax.
“These things are terrible all over the world, in London and in Paris,” said Pogba, who was also playing at the Stade de France on the night of the November 2015 Paris terror attacks.
“We went out focused to win and we won for Manchester and the country,” he told BT Sport.
“We played for England, we played for Manchester and we played for the people who died.”
United’s players wore black armbands, while chants of “Manchester” rang out from their fans as reminders of the attack were everywhere at the Friends Arena in Sweden.
United fan favourite Ander Herrera, voted man of the match, echoed Pogba’s words.
“I want to dedicate the trophy to the victims,” the Spanish midfielder told a press conference.
“This is football, but what happened two days ago was horrible.
“Yesterday morning we were devastated. We were really, really sad. It was really, really difficult to train.
“But the manager (Jose Mourinho) told us the only thing we could do was to win this for them and that’s what we’ve done.”
Victory enabled United to complete a sweep of European trophies.
They join Juventus, Ajax, Bayern Munich and Chelsea as the only clubs to have won the Champions League, the Europa League and the now defunct European Cup Winners’ Cup.
Spain international Juan Mata expressed his delight at helping United land the only major trophy missing from the club’s honours, but his thoughts were also primarily with those affected by the shocking events in Manchester.
“We have won a trophy the club has never won, so we are really happy,” said Mata.
“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.
“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.”