‘Unreal, fought hard for this’
“Two years ago we were very close, but then things went wrong against Chelsea. Fortunately, we were able to put that right now,” beamed Netherlands international Nathan Aké after Manchester City won the Champions League final. “It’s unreal, but we fought hard for this.”
The 28-year-old defender was too strong with ‘The Citizens’ 1-0 against Internazionale, where compatriot Denzel Dumfries also had a starting place, while Stefan de Vrij was not granted playing minutes.
“We already won the Premier League and the FA Cup, but this is what we wanted: the Champions League.”
Despite the joy, the international, who still awaits the Nations League final round with Oranje next week, had some critical words to say. “To be honest, this was not our best game. It was difficult against a physically strong Inter. But after halftime the chances came anyway. Ederson, Rúben Días and John Stones were great. We saved it. Wonderful.”
Captain Ilkay Gündogan couldn’t believe his luck either. “Unbelievable. It’s hard to put into words, but I waited so long for this.”
Twice it had already gone wrong for the 32-year-old midfielder: in 2013 with Borussia Dortmund against Bayern Munich and so two years ago with City against Chelsea.
“It’s a fairy tale,” was his first reaction. “I feel like a privileged person. Not only because I get to be captain of this club, but also because I get to work with a coach like Pep Guardiola. I am part of perhaps the most beautiful club in the world. I’m proud of that.”
For Simone Inzaghi, the coach of Internazionale, the grapes were sour. “Losing is the worst thing in sport. At the same time, the players should be proud of last season and the performance in the final. We played against a great opponent and didn’t deserve to lose. I still wonder how it’s possible we didn’t score at the end.”
Meanwhile, the former striker looked ahead. “This final could be the fuel to try again next season. The team has shown they can handle this level.”