An indomitable goalkeeper
André Onana is one of the goalkeepers with more projection in the world of football. He is a Calmed and certain goalkeeper, with great reflexes and a perfect ball handling with his feet, he has an amazing potential. Since season 2016/2017, he has been the main goalkeeper of Ajax, a team of young players who are looking to return to the international stage. The importance of Onana goes beyond the playing field. Despite his age, he is a leader in the clubhouse of Amsterdam.
From Cameroon to Amsterdam
André was born in Nkol Ngok (Cameroon) on April 2, 1996. He started playing football in his native country, where he began a progression that allowed him to make the leap to European football through the Samuel Eto’o Foundation. The organization chaired by the African great scorer took his entry into La Masia, international reference center in the training of players. The goalkeeper arrived in Barcelona in 2010.
His evolution in the lower categories of Barça not only drew attention within the club. The 2014/2015 UEFA Youth League, in which the Juvenil A Barça defended title, was a privileged showcase. One of the rivals he faced in that ‘Junior Champions’ was Ajax. The Dutch saw a goalkeeper of enormous future and they bet firmly for their hiring. Thus, in January 2015, Onana undertook his second great football trip. The destination was difficult to improve: the sixth entity with the most European Cups in its list (four) and an institution famous for promoting the development of young talents.
The Cameroonian goalkeeper started competing in the Jong Ajax (the second team), although he trained often with the first team, under Frank de Boer. The opportunity to take the big leap came in the summer of 2016. Jasper Cillessen’s march to Barcelona, coupled with Onana’s excellent performance, allowed André to take over the starting position under the command of Peter Bosz, the most decisive coach in his career.
September 6, 2016 was one of the most special days in the career of Onana. On that date he made his debut with the national team, Cameroon, in a friendly against Gabon. He played the full game and celebrated with victory (2-1). Months later, he entered the call to compete in the Confederations Cup in Russia. In the Cameroon goal has coincided with his cousin, Fabrice Ondoa.
On August 25, 2016 the incorporation of Cillessen into Barcelona was confirmed. Days before, on August 20, Onana had debuted in official match with Ajax. The rivals were Willem II. On August 28, André’s first big performance arrived. In a clash with the Go Ahead Eagles, which ended with a 0-3 victory, the Cameroonian international rejected a penalty shot with a spectacular intervention. The action occurred with 0-0. Three and a half years had passed since the last time an Ajax goalkeeper hadn’t saved a penalty.
In the 2016/2017 course, Onana stood out in a squad that marveled at European football with a cheeky and showy game. He played 46 official matches between League and Europa League. In the continental tournament, only the millionaire Manchester Unite and in the final, was able to stop a group that was able to beat Schalke 04 and Olympique de Lyon out of the competition. In the Eredivisie, Ajax fought for the title until the last day, and André ended up as the goalie with the least goals (20 goals conceded in 32 matches).
The importance of Onana in the team has increased this season. His work in the field and the dressing room has been fundamental to straighten the course of Ajax, after an irregular start course, is ready to fight for a position in the next edition of the Champions League. It would be the debut of Onana in the maximum European competition. A step forward in line with his unstoppable football growth.
A growth that has already earned him a relevant recognition. The prestigious magazine ‘ELF Voetbal’ named him third best player of the Eredivisie in 2017. In the election he was only surpassed by Nicolai Jörgensen (Feyenoord) and Hirving Lozano (PSV), two attackers. The fact of having competed with them from the position of goalkeeper evidences the notoriety that the African goalkeeper is acquiring in Dutch football.
Ajax knows that Onana is one of the bases of the project, and a player quoted in the market. Therefore, in March 2019, he extended his contract until June 2022. His qualities are highly valued by the sports director, Marc Overmars, and by the CEO, Edwin Van der Sar. The advice of Edwin, one of the great European goalkeepers in history, has helped Onana in her progression.
When he is not training or competing, the young keeper follows with attention the actions of referents such as Neuer or Ter Stegen. His eagerness to learn from the best is another of his distinctive features.