Eric Bailly smiles during a training session at the Aon Training Complex

Bailly: How I came to sign for United

Tuesday 22 January 2019 13:00

Eric Bailly has described the moment he signed for Manchester United in 2016 as "one big happy time" for both him and his family.

Speaking in a special documentary entitled l’Elephant d’Afrique, which will air on MUTV for the first time today (Thursday), the defender explained how his move from Spanish side Villarreal to United came about three years ago.

“I was with my mum in the lounge and I told her I was going to sign for United,” Eric said. "The family came and we talked and everyone was delighted. That day was one big happy time.

"Then I had to get on the flight to come and finalise all the arrangements in England. I had to undergo medical tests and sign here in Manchester."

Eric Bailly says

"I told my mum I was going to sign for United. It was one big happy time."

He went on: “When I was in the Ivory Coast training centre, we had a small staff, a different system from Europe but they taught us a lot and it was there I realised that with hard work I could make it.

"Why not become a professional player in Europe? I believed in myself and continued to grow, to pray and that’s how I became a professional player in Europe.”

Bailly, who has made 67 appearances for the Reds to date, quickly became a cult hero among United fans for his no-nonsense approach to defending.


Hervé Renard, Eric’s former manager with Ivory Coast, explains in the documentary how he felt the centre-back would have a successful career, even before he gave him his international debut at the age of 20.

“In Africa, sometimes the name is more important than the talent but I don’t care,” said Renard, who managed another African nation, Morocco, at the 2018 World Cup.

Hervé Renard, the Frenchman who used to coach Ivory Coast, recognised Bailly's potential at a young age.

“[In Eric] I saw someone very young with a lot of skill and very fast for a defender, which is what coaches like. I didn’t have any doubts about him.

"To be honest with you, after four or five days [of training], I knew already he was in the first XI.”

See the trailer for our Bailly documentary Video

See the trailer for our Bailly documentary

Eric Bailly's inspirational story is told in an MUTV documentary, which is still available on demand...

'Eric Bailly - l'Elephant d'Afrique', the latest in our series of MUTV Originals, will be available on demand to MUTV subscribers now. Others in the series include 'Jesse Lingard: Boy to FA Cup Hero', 'The Juan Show', 'El Diablo Rojo' and 'Valencia: Amazon to Old Trafford'.

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