Tuanzebe: Captaining United was a special moment
Axel Tuanzebe did not know he was going to be Manchester United’s captain until minutes before the Reds' Carabao Cup third round tie against Rochdale.
The 21-year-old got the shock of his life when he was ordered to referee John Brooks’ room to do the pre-match skipper’s duties by United assistant boss Mike Phelan.
And Tuanzebe was in fantasy land as he walked out of the tunnel to lead Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side out.
“I am just grateful to the manager and grateful to the club and the players I am playing with for sharing this moment with me.
“It was a nice surprise. I was literally getting ready to stretch and loosen up and Mike Phelan just came to me and said 'are you ready to go and see the referee'.
"I said ‘what do you mean?’ and he said, 'Come on you are captain'. So I said 'alright, let’s get it'.”
Tuanzebe was brought up in Rochdale and attended school in the town: he was even named Sports Boy of the Year a decade ago by the Mayor.
“It made it that bit more sweeter, a bit more special,” said Axel.
“I had a lot of family and friends who came to watch the game so to have my first game as captain in front of them was remarkable.”
Rochdale took United to the wire before Daniel James scored the deciding penalty shoot-out winner after the match ended 1-1.
“They defended well first and foremost,” said the England Under-21 international.
“Big respect to them, they came out here and battled all the way. They had confidence. It is a hard place to come to, Old Trafford, and play. But they did and all respect to them and good luck to them for the season.
“We had a lot of chances that we weren’t able to execute, but we always find a way to win and we are through to the next round, and that is important.”
United travel to Chelsea for the fourth round next month in an all-Premier League blockbuster.
“These are the kind of games you want to be playing,” said Axel. “People dismiss the Carabao Cup and say it is a nothing kind of trophy. But you respect the teams who are in it and you respect the competition. Chelsea will be a big game and we want to win it and march on.”
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