Manchester United’s Europa League triumph has brought “a little happiness at a difficult time”, said former England Captain David Beckham.
The Red Devils beat Ajax in Wednesday’s final in Stockholm, two days after the Manchester Arena bombing which killed 22 people and injured 64.
“Tonight was more important than sport,” ex-United player Beckham said.
The 42-year-old added that it was “a big night for United but an even bigger night for the city and our country”.
Greater Manchester Police said the final would be a “poignant” occasion following Monday’s attack after an Ariana Grande pop concert, adding it was “right” for the game to go ahead despite discussions to postpone it.
United fans and officials said before the final that the match was secondary to the “pain and suffering” in Manchester.
On an emotional night in Sweden, United won their second major trophy of the season as they earned a 2-0 win against the Dutch side, securing the football Champions League.
“At a time when we are grieving for the families that have lost loved ones, we have a sport that has brought a little happiness at a difficult time,” said Beckham, who played 394 games for United between 1992 and 2003.
“We pray for peace,” he added.
‘We played for the people who died’
‘This is for Manchester’ – Man Utd fans on emotional triumph
Paul Pogba, the world’s most expensive player who scored United’s first goal in Stockholm, said afterwards: “We know that things like this are very sad, all over the world: in Manchester, in London and in Paris, too. 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,” said the 24-year-old Frenchman, who joined United as a teenager before leaving for Juventus in 2012 and returning last summer in an £89m move.