At a young age, André Onana, now 23, swapped his home country of Cameroon for the academy of FC Barcelona. At Ajax he grew into the man he is today. At Hotel l’Europe we talked about football, fashion and family – reasons enough to be proud of who you are and where you come from.
Red velvet wallcovering, Dutch Masters on all walls, not a bad backdrop for a fashion shoot. The ‘keeper has brought along a few friends who are poking a ball around in the hall outside our hotel room.
What does a day in the life of Ajax’s first keeper look like?
André Onana: “Train first. That was a big one today. Then to the gym, arranging some other things, selecting clothes and coming here. But now I’m happy. The shoot went really well, it was done professionally.”
What did you bring then?
Onana: “I have so much in the meantime, it’s hard to choose. But I had brought some of my own clothes and it was nice to wear something from Hugo Boss, to put on something else.”
And how would you describe your own style?
He smiles. “How can I describe that? I can dress like you, but you cannot dress like me. In Africa we have a different way of dressing. With more colour, we are much more used to that. But what you like is much more important, isn’t it? If you like green, wear green. And if you are happy with white, then you wear that. I lived in Spain, and then here, so I can adapt. I know what to wear when I am here and what to wear when I am there. Here it is important for me to realise that I am not in Africa.”
Photos by Yamandu Roos
Colour or no colour, Onana can now choose what he wears. That used to be different. “Back then my parents gave me everything: shoes, shirts. Sometimes it wasn’t what I wanted, but then I had to wear it. That is also life.
“I ask him if he can remember his first pair of football boots. “Phew, that was so long ago. I remember my first pair of goalkeeper gloves. My brother Christian then played as a professional in Indonesia. He came home one day and brought me those gloves.”
A long journey…
A pair of goalkeeper gloves from Indonesia, they were the start of Onana’s long journey, with a stopover in Amsterdam. When I talk about Ajax, he looks very satisfied. How could it be different? He has been the undisputed number one in the goal for years now, with a bunch of young dogs reaching the semifinals of the Champions League.
“Good signings, young players, everything is going great for us. I am proud of Ajax, proud of the team. Now we just have to look ahead again.”
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