Ander Herrera has admitted it was difficult for the Manchester United players to train in the build up to the Europa League final after the terrorist attack that devastated Manchester on Monday, while Paul Pogba dedicated the triumph to city and the rest of the country.Pogba opened the scoring, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan adding a second, as United beat Ajax 2-0 in Stockholm on Wednesday to lift the trophy, which also ensures their qualification for next season’s Champion League
The players had taken part in a session at Carrington on Tuesday morning before flying to Stockholm in the wake of the incident at the Manchester arena that left 22 people dead and 59 injured during an Ariana Grande concert at the venue. And Herrera admitted the squad had struggled to cope with the news.
“Tuesday morning we were devastated,” Herrera told a news conference after winning the man-of-the-match award.
“We were really, really sad because you think about life and football and it’s not choice. It was difficult to train.
“The manager told us the only thing do was to win this for them [the victims] and that’s what we have done. It is only a trophy but if we can support them with this one percent then that’s good.
“It’s is a European trophy and you don’t win them every day. I lost a final four years ago [with Athletic Bilbao]. Very, very happy. We dedicate the trophy to the victims.
“It is just football and what happened two days ago was horrible. We know we are just football players but we have an audience. This happened in Manchester but it could everywhere and we need a united world to fight for peace.”
Pogba echoed he teammate’s sentiments after the win in Sweden.
“We know that things like this are very sad, all over the world: in Manchester, in London and in Paris, too,” Pogba told BT Sport.
“We had to focus because it was a very important game and we won for them and for the country.
“We played for England, we played for Manchester, and we played for the people who died.”
Pogba also said that United have managed to shut up their critics by adding the Europa League to the EFL Cup and Community Shield trophies they have already won this season.
“We knew we were going to play in the Europa League and the goal was to win the Europa League,” Pogba said.
“We did it, so we are very proud. Nobody can talk. Some say we had a bad season but we have three trophies. We worked hard and we’ll enjoy it now.
“The start [of the game] was important and after the goals we controlled the game. [It was a] great performance from everybody in the team.”
Herrera insists the question about whether or not it has been a successful campaign is no longer up for debate.
“Motivation is always big when you put the United shirt,” he added.
“Obligation is always big. We could have done better in Premier League so to finish with three titles is fantastic.
“It was game of the season because we couldn’t talk about a good season if we hand’t won it. Now we are talking about a great season. We deserve the victory, we performed like a big team.”
Mkhitaryan, meanwhile, was happy to fulfil his teammates’ prophecies with a goal in the final, after helping United reach the Stockholm showpiece with five Europa League strikes this term.
“Thank you to my teammates because without them I couldn’t score so many goals,” he said. “I’m happy that I scored here today in the final because everyone was saying, ‘You’re going to score in the final,’ and after the last game against Celta Vigo I was dreaming about scoring in the final and I did.
“We were fighting in two races: the Premier League and the Europa League. In the Premier League we couldn’t hit the target to go to the Champions League but tonight we gave all our effort and now we’re playing in the Champions League.”
United midfielder Juan Mata added: “It’s massive for us. We came here with one option — to win the trophy that the club had never won and we did it so we are happy. It was a great final and my first European final with United, hopefully the first of many.
“Especially after what happened [in Manchester] we wanted to win this and we’ll bring the trophy back. It was a very difficult week for a lot of us and for the city of Manchester and we tried to win for all the people who have suffered. This trophy is for them.”