Classic interview: The day Evra joined United
On 10 January 2006, Patrice Evra transferred from AS Monaco to begin what became an immensely successful and popular nine-season career at Manchester United.
Is this a dream move for you, Patrice?
I never had a dream of joining a big club. I was happy at Monaco, but more importantly my career was always going to be a steady progression rather than big leaps at a time. Monaco have served me well as a trampoline to move forward in my career and gain a lot of experience. What has struck me since getting to Manchester United is the fact that I'm at a big club, and also at a big family. Since I've arrived, people have welcomed me really warmly.
There's a lot of competition for places in the defence...
If you come to a big club expecting not to have to compete for a spot in the starting Xl then it's all over for you, I expect that. I want to prove to the people that made the decision to bring me here that it was the right decision, and prove to the manager that I'm worth a start in the team.
Have you enjoyed your early training sessions here at United?
Training has gone well, I've really enjoyed the sessions a lot. I think in France, when we had a break over the Christmas period, I was concentrating a lot on the physical side of the game. What has impressed me about training here is that we do a lot with the ball. We do lots of specific small game situations, we might concentrate on specific skills and we've been working on crosses too. It's been very entertaining and I've enjoyed them a lot.
Bonjour, Patrice! Gallery
Eight classic pics of Evra completing his transfer from AS Monaco, on this day in 2006.
Do you feel your style of play is suited to the Premiership?
I can't really say whether I'm strong enough because I need to demonstrate that on the field. I could say I'm really strong and then be last on the field!
How would you describe your own playing style?
I like to tackle and get stuck in. I think I have an explosive style of play and my speed stands out. I like to get forward and maybe get in situations where I can take on a man, or play one-twos.
So we can expect to see you attacking from the back, then?
I think the important thing is to search for the perfect balance. I'm not saying go out and attack, neglecting all your defensive duties, but certainly I strive for a balance between the two get forward, but at the same time be tight at the back.
Manchester United are a huge club, but their size was magnified in France by the impact Eric had here. Before I came over I was looking at some of the images of the goals he scored, and the one that sticks in the mind is the goal against Sunderland where he looks around with his collar up. What really attracts someone to Eric is his charisma and his personality, and I think really if I needed any kind of pushing towards Manchester then I only needed to look at the role he played.
So Eric inadvertently had a bearing on your decision to move here?
When you see what Cantona achieved, it makes you want to come to the club. The other reason, which you don't know from the outside and only find out when you get here, is the great family atmosphere, I'm realising that more and more each day.
Do you think the move will aid your chances of going to the World Cup?
One or two people in the press have said it might influence things internationally. I played regularly at Monaco and I was consistent, so I think by repeating that here and hopefully playing regularly, I think that it will. A big club like United is much rnore striking for an international manager.
This interview originally appeared in the March 2006 edition of Inside United magazine.
Four days after signing, Evra infamously endured a tough debut when he was substituted at half-time of the Manchester derby and, in truth, along with his fellow mid-season signing Nemanja Vidic, he struggled to settle during the immediate aftermath of his arrival. But Patrice is no shrinking violet and he met the challenge head on, both on and off the pitch, by quickly becoming our first-choice left-back with a passion for our history that was gained by watching DVDs bought from the Old Trafford Megastore.
Nine years later, by the time of his June 2014 departure, the Frenchman had registered 379 appearances and scored 10 goals, including a sensational thunderbolt against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. Yet his most impressive stats remain the five Premier League titles, five FA Community Shields, three League Cups, UEFA Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup trophies that he raised throughout his time as an adopted Mancunian. Today, Patrice Evra remains as popular with fans as he ever was.