Fans' Q&A in full: Jonny Evans
Jonny Evans is the latest Manchester United player in the hot-seat, answering questions sent in by supporters across the globe for our Fans' Q&A.
The experienced centre-back, thoroughly enjoying his second spell with the Reds, after rejoining in the summer, was pushed on a number of topics, including what it is like having a brother as a professional footballer, how much he learned from his loan spells and who his idol was growing up.
There are burning questions too, such as who really is the GOAT (greatest of all time) and just what are his thoughts on whether pineapple should go on pizza?
All this and more form part of our exclusive interview, in addition to his advice for young defenders and just what it means to be representing his boyhood club again.
Thank you to everybody who submitted entries...
“Daniel, I’d probably have to say when we won my first Premier League at club level [in 2008/09]. And, at international level, playing for my country, it would have to be going to the Euros, which was in France, in 2016.”
Daisy B. (UK): Who is your football idol and why?
“Daisy, my football idol was Roy Keane and I think there was a bit of the Ireland connection there. But he was Man United captain. I was a Man United fan, at that time when I was kind of a young boy. So he was my big, big hero growing up. [And you got to play for him…] I got to play for him as well. So that was a bit of a dream come true and, yeah, he was very inspirational as a player and as a manager.”
Chaz T. (Australia): What is it like having a professional footballer brother – do you offer each other advice and support, especially as Corry has been injured for a long spell at Sunderland?
“Yes, Chaz, having my brother Corry has been as a friend and a real comfort throughout my career. We’ve both been able to rely on each other quite a lot and we speak very often on the phone, talking through tactics, managers and team-mates. I think that’s the beauty that we’ve had that. We’ve been able to do it because we’re both experiencing it at the same time. We get to sort of have someone that we can talk to and, you know, it’s your brother. You can always trust your brother.”
“Darren, yeah, I mean getting my 100th cap was sort of a little milestone that I wasn’t really you know, I never thought it was something that I was aiming for until I got really close to it. And I thought ‘oh, it’ll be amazing to get over the 100 mark’, and, for Pat Jennings to come onto the pitch and hand the cap over. He was the one, when I first started my international career, he was the record cap holder at that time. So he was always the one that we were all kind of aiming for. Then Aaron Hughes broke that and, later, after that, Steven Davis. So for him to be able to present that, and with him being such a legend and an absolute gentleman, and just what a good guy and a great representative of Northern Ireland, it was an amazing moment.”
Bernie W. (USA): What is your favourite kit you have worn?
“Bernie, I would have to say my favourite kit would definitely have to be one of the home kits. Probably back early in the day. I think the one that was used when I first came into the first-team squad. There was one, I think the next season, the first team, we ended up going to win the Champions League in Moscow. That sort of season, the home kit they wore that season, was my favourite one.”
“Well, the loan moves, for me, were so crucial, I think, and I mean you can never know what direction I would have gone if I had had different loan moves. But I have to say that every loan move that I had a spell at Antwerp and the two spells at Sunderland, they both went well. The three of them all went amazingly well. So I feel very fortunate because I know that some players don’t always have successful moves or they may not work out the way they want, but I was very fortunate that everything went kind of plain sailing and they really set me up. So going to Antwerp allowed me to make that step into the Championship and then going to the Championship allowed me to make that step up into the Premier League, for Sunderland. I went back to Sunderland, and then coming back to play for Manchester United, I always felt like it was a constant progression.”
Linda M. (UK): What do you love most about United?
“Linda, I think for me, what I love most about Man United, I mean now, for me, it was more like, as a kid, I suppose it was more, you know, the glory of the club and the history that they had. But I suppose now I obviously still carry the history and feel part of that history. Like I say, it’s more about the family and the friends and the connection that I’ve been able to make over the years and I know that it’ll always, always stay with me. So I’m in a really fortunate position.”
“If I’m a young centre-back now, Dylan, I’d probably say, you know, working on your ball-playing as I think it’s such a crucial part of the game. Centre-backs are now having to be the playmakers and use both feet, you know, with different ranges of passes. You’ve got to be able to do it and, obviously, you’ve got to concentrate on defending too, it’s a big part of it too. But, you know, definitely the ball-playing ability and it’s probably the most difficult thing that young centre-backs are having to master now.”
Miguel C. (USA): I always felt you should have never left the United team as you always played at a high level and gave 100 per cent in every match. How did it feel when you had to leave? How does it feel now that you’re back?
“Thanks for that, Miguel. I think when I left, at the time when I was leaving, it was something that just kind of happened naturally. And I suppose coming back has kind of happened naturally too. It never really felt like it was a traumatic moment, when I was leaving. I was like, at the time, sort of ready to go and try a new challenge. And also when I was coming back, I also felt it was such an easy transition to come back into the club. So I feel very fortunate in everything. Most things in my career have all just fallen into place and I feel very grateful.”
“Yes, Glenn, I think, growing up in the United Academy, I always felt it was like such a tough atmosphere, you know. You’ve got some real good players so you were in a very competitive atmosphere. But also you were very protected and well looked after by the club. Like I say, those standards that were drilled into us, and the competitiveness, you know, you learn how to be a winner and to be able to express yourself. I like to think that most of the boys that have come out of the Academy have gone on to have good careers and become good people.”
Janitta M. (UK): Who do you think is the greatest footballer of all time?
“Hi Janitta, the greatest footballer of all time? I have to go George Best, don’t I? I think being a Northern Irishman and a Man United man. He was kind of someone, you know, we were always sort of looking up to and he was held in such a high regard all around the world but also at Man United. Yeah, he was just a bit of a genius wasn’t he?”
“Vaishali, oh well, I did score! I did score one but it got ruled out so I would probably have to do that again. When I look back, I thought it was a terrible celebration but I’m not really used to celebrating. So, when I do score, I kind of don’t really know what I’m doing. But, yeah, hopefully the next one stands and I can give a better celebration. But usually it’s just a little fist pump, you know, to the fans.”
“Yes, Nico, I think, for me, it’s probably something I probably did have to work on. I probably would say my longer passing was something that I was quite aware that I wanted to practise on quite a lot. And, you know, throughout the years, I’ve tried to work on that, with both feet. Like I said earlier, I think for a lot of centre-backs now and you’ve got be able to play with both feet with different ranges of passing. Yeah, long-range patterns are something that I’d say I worked on a lot. So when something like that comes off for an assist, for a goal, you do think oh, all that hard work has paid off.”
Massimo G. (UK): Do you think pineapple belongs on pizza?
“Massimo, do you know what? I never, ever used to have pineapple on pizza but the last couple of times, I’ve had a bit of ham and pineapple and I’ve actually really enjoyed it.”
“The three most difficult? Amas, that’s a tricky one. I would probably say I’ve played against some good strikers over the years and Luis Suarez would have been up there when he was at Liverpool. In the Brendan Rodgers team when they had him and [Daniel] Sturridge up front as well, they were very dangerous. [Didier] Drogba. And I’d probably have to put [Sergio] Aguero up there too.”
Mazin A. (UAE): Jonny, who is the team’s biggest joker?
“Mazin, do you know what? I haven’t been here long enough to sort of work that out but I’d probably say, at the minute, I’m looking around at Scott McTominay and Tom Heaton. They’re usually trying to lead the banter on that side of things.”
Barry P. (UK): Who is the best player you played with that never quite made it at the top level?
“Um, it’s quite hard to say what the top level is, isn’t it? Barry, I’d probably have to say, probably someone from my youth team. I mean David Gray was a good friend of mine growing up and he was a top player, with lots of good attributes. He went on to go back to Scotland and ended up having an unbelievable career at Hibs, yet he actually started off as a Hearts fan and player growing up. Man United actually signed him from Hearts but he went back to Hibs and had an amazing, amazing career with them. I suppose you could say he’s played at the top level in Scotland but maybe I think I would have liked to have seen him stay in England a bit longer.”
“That would be golf, Jack, without a question. I think everyone that plays golf would like to have a lower handicap.”
Emmanuel A. (Ghana) - What is your greatest motivation as a footballer?
“I’d probably say my greatest motivation as a footballer, well, I think my motivations have changed over the course of my career and I think, now, my motivations are to maximise the most out of the time that I’ve got left in the game. I think just yeah, like I say, just try to give everything that I can. I just want to make sure that I give it everything I’ve got.”
“Alex, I’d probably say [Rasmus] Hojlund. I think, for such a young lad, to have his attributes and his personality to be able to come in and, you know, his work-rate too. I think the fans have really taken to him already and he’s going to become a top player.”
Louise B. (UK) - What is your favourite post-match treat?
“Louise, that would have to be, if I could, I’d probably go for Chinese every single time but, if I’ve got a little pizza hanging or knocking around, I’m tucking into the pizza. [Not with pineapple?] Not with the pineapple!”
“Pierce, I suppose when I was playing in the Academy, we had a lot more sort of jobs to do in terms of there was a lot of the educational side of it that we had to complete. There were also little jobs that we had to go around, like making sure all the first-team balls were pumped up, putting drinks in the first-team dressing room. And I suppose, now, it's probably just the intensity and the concentration levels are a bit more extreme. A lot more gym work. I suppose more, what would you call it, injury prevention work. You’re looking after your body. So I think, as you get older, you learn to become more professional and, like I say, taking care of your body is probably the number one thing that everyone is trying to do to sort of stay at the top level.”
Des B. (Northern Ireland) – Did you have a favourite teacher, who was it?
“I had a couple of favourite teachers, you know, I actually liked language, the languages ones with French and Spanish, and obviously Maths. So I’d probably say Mrs Clark and Mrs Thompson. I remember they were two Maths and language teachers back in Belfast.”