Ajax goalkeeper André Onana has claimed that an Italian club – who he kept anonymous – decided against signing him two years ago simply because he is black.
The 23-year-old, formerly of Barcelona, has proved himself as one of the most talented young players in Europe over recent seasons, making an impressive 116 appearances for Ajax, and has gathered interest from an array of clubs.
Ajax keeper André Onana claims an Italian side didn't sign him because of his skin colour. pic.twitter.com/F5k0fcAy7L— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 2, 2020
Speaking to Onze Mondial, Onana revealed the events which followed an approach from a sporting director towards his agent.
"Two years ago, after the Europa League final, I was talking to a club in Italy whose name I will not give. We were talking quietly and the sports director said to my agent: 'a black goalkeeper is complicated here.'
"There is something that we don't mention much. Being a goalkeeper of colour, African, you are undercut, you are seen differently. It is up to us to make a difference."
Onana spoke with pride, emphasising his passion regarding his ethnicity and his own identity.
"I was happy. They didn't tell me I was a bad goalkeeper, they said they didn't want me because I was black, it's different. This is something I cannot control. I am black and I am proud to be black!
"Despite the misery there [Africa], it is the most beautiful continent in the world and I say it loud and clear. I am proud!"
Onana's bravery is to be commended; speaking out about a sensitive subject with such conviction and gratification is inspiring.
The Cameroon international was part of the Ajax side who shocked many with their fantastic showings in the Champions League last season - and they would have made it all the way to the final if it weren't for the last minute heroics from Tottenham Hotspur's Lucas Moura in the semis.