By Vishani RagobeerYOU know him as ace footballer for the ‘Golden Jags’ or even as Bury FC midfield player, but Neil Danns is intent on showing his versatility by exploring the music scene.“I’ve been studying music production and engineering for the last couple of years,” Danns told the Chronicle Sport in an exclusive interview, adding “I’m still learning and progressing but I’m only just starting to get the confidence to put it out.”Initially, the footballer connected with music as a pastime, even though he always had a passion for music and writing.“I started off playing guitar for a hobby when I was in my early 20s and I always liked to write poetry and melodies,” he reflected. And so his musical journey started off with him fiddling around and just writing simple chord songs just for his own personal listening pleasure.He taught himself how to play the piano over the past few years – nothing too fancy – but just enough to help him create his own music and depth to his skills.His desire to develop his musical ambitions has been insatiable, however, and resultantly, he tried learning music engineering. “It’s just been gradual building,” he said modestly.It’s not his aim to be an artiste, at least not for the most part. Instead, he is aiming to just write and produce music.“I hope to work with aspiring artistes in the future … and it would be amazing to collaborate with some top Guyanese artistes out there in the future,” Danns noted.But even so, he’s putting a few tracks out there, just so that people would know that he knows his stuff and he’s good at it. In fact, he’s currently making one of his tracks available on Spotify and iTunes; it’s called ‘What you thinking’ and will come under his alias: Melodix.“When people hear my stuff it’s mostly a shock as a lot of people do not realise I play any instruments but I’m still a long way from where I want to get to; but I enjoy learning and improving in everything I have passion for,” he affirmed. “It takes a lot of hours and can be frustrating but that’s what makes it worth it when you make positive steps.”His endeavours in music, however, do not sidetrack from his finesse in football. He’s been involved in the game – professionally- for about 20 years, and that’s just not something he can stop being involved in.Moving into the music scene fulltime is a possibility, but only after he considers what options present themselves once he is retired.But Danns’ musical ambitions will be put on pause for a bit, as he prepares for Guyana’s historic showing at next month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.Danns will be a key figure for Guyana, when they face defending champs USA on June 18, followed by last FIFA World Cup debutants Panama on June 22 then Trinidad and Tobago on June 26.
“They’re the same – they make mistakes. I make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes. Black keepers need to prepare well because it’s not easy for us.”Onana’s Ajax can reach the Champions League final on Wednesday, as they protect a 1-0 lead at home against Tottenham Hotspur, whereupon he could become the first black goalkeeper to contest the final since Brazil’s Dida, who played for Milan in 2007.The Cameroon international has played every minute of Ajax’s Champions League campaign, which began in the second qualifying round in July 2018.“We don’t have a lot of black goalkeepers at the top and people already have in their mind that black goalkeepers are not confident or they make too many mistakes,” Onana told BBC Sport.“It’s something we have to change. It’s not easy for us to arrive at that level especially when you are black but for me it really doesn’t matter – black or white, in the end I am a goalkeeper.”Onana has been first choice at Ajax since 2016 after joining them from Barcelona a year earlier.He learnt his trade at the Spanish giants after a move from the academy in Douala founded by Cameroon legend Samuel Eto’o.He feels his growth in recent seasons is because he can accept criticism.Former Ajax, Juventus and Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who is now the CEO of the Dutch club, is also helping his development.“We talk more when I make mistakes because when you win, even if you make mistakes, no one is going to talk about that mistake,” he explained.“Nobody wants to lose but sometimes you have to lose to learn. When you are playing at a high level, I think the key is to be calm.“It doesn’t matter what happens because if you are calm you are going to absorb the pressure. Don’t think too much about the game. Relax. Take your time.“When you have the ball, you are the boss. You decide what you are going to do.”Last Tuesday, Onana took another step towards winning the Champions League with Ajax as they beat Premier League side Tottenham 1-0 in the first leg of the semi-final.Now Ajax are just 90 minutes from reaching their first Champions League final since 1996.“We didn’t expect to arrive in the semi-final and now we are here, we are going to fight to go to the final and win,” he continued.“We played against great opponents. Bayern Munich was not easy, we played against Benfica, Real Madrid and Juventus.“It would be great for this young team but it’s something very, very difficult but I hope we are going to make it.”While there are not many black goalkeepers playing in top leagues in Europe, his country has a rich history of producing top goalkeeping talent.The roll call of Cameroon goalkeepers who have graced the Europe football scene is impressive.Joseph Antoine Belle played for France’s biggest clubs, including Marseilles, Bordeaux and St Etienne.Jacques Songo’o played for Deportivo La Coruna while Thomas Nkono and Idriss Carlos Kameni both starred for Spanish club Espanyol among others.The legacy is continuing not only with Onana but his cousin Fabrice Ondoa too, who plays for Belgian club KV Oostende.Onana’s performances like many of his club-mates has seen him linked with a move away from the Netherlands and he still dreams of a return to Spain and the club that gave him his first taste of European football as a 13-year-old in 2010.“Barcelona is my home. When I go there all the doors are open. It’s normal because I was there since I was young,” he said.“Everyone would love to go to Barcelona but for me it’s important to play. I am happy when I play so I will try to play somewhere.”Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Ajax Amsterdam and Cameroon’s Andre Onana has insisted that black goalkeepers have to work harder than white stoppers to make it to the top of European football.The 23-year-old believes there is a misconception that black keepers make too many mistakes.“I don’t see the difference between white and black goalkeepers,” he said.