Francis Uzoho: Omonia Nicosia keeper and boyhood Man Utd fan stars at Old Trafford

Francis Uzoho: Omonia Nicosia keeper and boyhood Man Utd fan stars at Old Trafford
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For any boyhood Manchester United fan, playing at Old Trafford is a dream come true. Then, to produce the performance of your life, takes things to a whole new level.

That is exactly what happened to Omonia Nicosia goalkeeper Francis Uzoho on Thursday and even Scott McTominay’s stoppage-time winner for Manchester United would not spoil his moment.

Uzoho, 23, had only played 134 minutes so far this season, but produced a string of stunning saves as the Cypriots threatened a big Europa League upset.

McTominay finally broke his resistance as the hosts boosted their hopes of qualifying as group winners – but a beaming Uzoho refused to let that ruin his night.

“I am not disappointed,” Uzoho told BT Sport. “We had a good game, I am happy, it is not an easy stadium to play at.

“It is a dream come true. I have dreamed to play here for a long, long time.

“When I saw the draw, I wanted to play and I got the opportunity.

“Arguably it is the best I have played. I am proud of my team-mates though, because it is not a one-man job.”

It was a game that the hosts dominated, having 34 shots compared to three and 51 touches in the Omonia box, compared to six by the visitors at the other end.

However, it looked like Uzoho was on track for a clean sheet, saving the first 12 shots on target he faced, before McTominay’s 93rd-minute winner.

When the draw was made in August, Uzoho, who has played 25 times for Nigeria, replied to United’s tweet, saying “finally Theatre of Dreams here I come”.

He has now played there and produced a performance that will “change his career”, according to BT Sport pundit Owen Hargreaves.

“He had the game of his life, he was amazing,” added the former United and England midfielder.

“He will nick a move off that. To think he was their back-up goalkeeper.

“He was a wall. His agent will be on the phone and he will be having a Jerry Maguire phone call.

“We all have moments, games that change your career – everyone will know his name.

“This game will change his career, arguably change his life. It is spectacular, that is what sport is all about. He sums it up there with that beaming smile in the interview.”

Former Celtic boss Neil Lennon, now managing Omonia, said Uzoho “hasn’t shut up all week” about playing at Old Trafford.

“He was inspiring. I’m very proud of him,” said Lennon.

“When you play a team of this calibre you need your goalkeeper to play well and he was world class. I was so happy for him.

“He has had to be patient. The opportunity came along and I had a chat with him about what I wanted.

“I thought he was magnificent. He excelled under the spotlight. I’m so happy for him because all of his hard work has come to fruition.”

On Thursday morning not many people would have heard of Francis Uzoho. After Thursday evening, a lot more will know his name.


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