Evra: How the Busby Babes scored my best goal
Patrice Evra has emotionally explained how the most famous goal of his Manchester United career – a thunderous effort at Bayern Munich in 2014 – was spiritually connected to the Busby Babes.
On the eve of the match, Sir Bobby Charlton and the entire first-team squad visited a memorial in the city to pay respect to the 23 people who lost their lives in the 1958 Munich Air Disaster.
United lost 3-1 to Bayern Munich the following night and exited the European Cup, but Evra’s sensational goal remains a personal highlight for many supporters and, while speaking in this week’s UTD Podcast, Patrice admits the strike had a greater meaning to him than just football.
“It's a crazy story about that goal, because I remember the day before – because I'm really attached to the history of the club – we went to where the Busby Babes’ plane crashed,”explains Evra.
“We went exactly where it crashed, the memorial. We went there and I remember I prayed a lot and I went back to my room and I always pray in the morning and pray in the evening, to give thanks to be alive and that everyone is alive and okay – not to play a good game or to score a goal.
“I was just speaking to myself and I said: ‘I hope tomorrow I will play a good game for the Busby Babes. I dedicate my game for the Busby Babes.’ That's when I scored that goal, I always dedicate that goal to them, because they scored that goal, not me. It was so special.
“But then they [Bayern] scored a goal and it was a massive disappointment, but I was like: wow, the connection was so strong with this club, that even when I asked something it happened. I didn't ask to play a good game, I didn’t ask to score that goal. But I really played this game for the Busby Babes and not to be qualified, not to win against Bayern Munich. I said, 'Patrice, play that game. I want the Busby Babes to see you from up in the sky and be proud of you'.”
“I'll be honest with you, I did it [learned the history] with Manchester United,”says Patrice.
“Like I say, I'm surprised with some kids. Roy Keane came to have a speech with them and some kids didn't know who Roy Keane was. I don't want those things to happen. That's why I say to those kids, 'watch some DVDs, read some books so you will see this person, when he enters the building, you know what this person or this player has done for the club'.
“Every time I was shaking the hands of Bobby Charlton, I feel something. And every time I saw him in the plane, travelling with us, when I know what's happening with all his ex-team-mates, I was like 'this person is a miracle'. But maybe some kids... and it's not an excuse, even if they are like six, seven... when they play for this club they need to know every person working for this club, and this is really important. You don't have any excuse. Just watch some DVDs like I did. It's really important.
“That is how I know every time I was putting this shirt on, I knew how many people have worn this shirt and won. Respect this tradition, the philosophy. I was like: I can't let down those people. When you play for Manchester United, it's not for you. You don't use Manchester United, and because you're a United player so you're famous, you're on social media. No! You play for United because you have to give to those people.
“I give you one example: once when we were in pre-season, and before we came on the bus, we were really tired, I'll be honest with you, and there was a queue of fans. And the players were like: when no one signs, no one has to sign. So we went straight to the bus, every one, and I look out the window and I see Sir Alex Ferguson signing each autograph. I swear he must have signed for like 45 minutes. He was signing [for] everyone. I say, 'Guys, when the boss comes on the bus, we are done'.
“And he came on the bus, he gave us the hairdryer: 'What the hell do you think you are? Those people are paying your salary. Those people are coming to watch you. Now get the f**k down there and sign.' And we had to sign each fan. But that's the mentality.
“And you know, when you score two goals, he was like, 'You need to score another one and another one, because if you have to destroy a team 10-0, you need to destroy them 10-0. That's the way you show a respect – if you start doing skills, trying to be funny, they going to tackle to you and that's when you disrespect them. So make sure you're scoring as many goals as you can, because that's the way you're going to show them that you respect them’.”
Visit ManUtd.com/podcast for the full episode with Patrice Evra.