Evra questioned United move after shaky start
Patrice Evra has revealed how he and his agent questioned his move to Manchester United, after the Frenchman struggled to hit the ground running upon his arrival at the club.
In a fascinating episode of UTD Podcast, which will be released worldwide on Monday, our former left-back recalled how he struggled to adapt to the fast-paced nature of the English game after signing for the Reds from Monaco in 2006.
Evra's sluggish start for United even led to his agent telling him that a move to Manchester was a mistake. However, the Frenchman didn't give up and realised he had to work hard to make it at Old Trafford.
Patrice also shed light on his tough upbringing in Paris, as well as which game he would like to relive, and it is not one that you might expect!
With rumoured offers from a number of potential suitors, Patrice eventually decided to make the move from the Mediterranean coast and AS Monaco, to the inclement North West of England and Manchester United in 2006. The Frenchman joined in a January transfer window that also saw Nemanja Vidic embark on his spell as a Red.
However things didn't get off to the best of starts. Evra's first match was against none other than our local rivals, Manchester City. Talk about a baptism of fire! After a 3-1 defeat, Patrice had a meeting with his agent and both had doubts on whether the move to England was the right one.
“‘What the hell am I doing here?" he said. "I was chilling in Monte Carlo chilling, but here the football is so fast. 'Oh my God, you’re so done Patrice. You should go back to Monte Carlo’. I remember thinking that and the worst part is when the game was finished.
“We went back to my flat with my agent and his wife and my agent looked at me like this and said, ‘Patrice, I’m sorry’. I was like, ‘Why?’ ‘I’m sorry to bring you here. You’ll never make it, it’s too hard, you should stay in Monte Carlo’. In front of his wife!
“That day I was so bad, so embarrassing. My agent actually telling me I should have never gone to Manchester United. So yeah, I have this tough moment, but it helped me to become who I am."
As well as reflecting on his playing career, Patrice talks in UTD Podcast about his tough upbringing in Paris, and how he would sometimes have to beg for money so that he could get something to eat.
“I’ll be honest with you, it was a tough childhood because I’ve got many brothers and sisters, so it wasn’t easy living in the street. I was in Paris but living in the streets and sometimes I wasn’t even able to have some food.
"I remember my brother Dominique was working at a McDonalds and so I was going there and on his lunch break he was giving me his own food. I’m not scared to say that I’ve begged for money in front of shops. I’ve been in front of shops and when I’ve seen some people I’ve said, ‘Can I have a Euro?’ and sometimes they were giving me the money and sometimes not, just because I wanted to buy a sandwich.
“It was a tough time, but a happy time. I was always happy and always felt lucky, I wouldn’t change anything, I would keep it that way because it built the man I am. Some people, when you succeed they just see the end [result], they just see on the TV the superstar, but actually on the streets I learned so much and it helped me to be strong. Especially after the World Cup when I was the captain and a lot of people were blaming me but I was still strong because I know on the streets I had tougher times than then, with the press talking about you.”
He added: “I’m not a victim, I’m not feeling sad. I don’t want any people to give me much love, because I’m telling those things. I’m just telling my true story. I just want to motivate more kids to never give up no matter what will happen. If you believe you’re going to become someone, if you walk out, if you believe in yourself, you’re going to do it. That’s it.”
Things of course did get better for Evra at United and he went on to make over 350 appearances in all competitions and win 10 major honours before he departed for Juventus in 2014.
However, his debut against Man City is still a match that he would like to relive.
"My first game!" he replied. "My first game, because people ask me, ‘What's your best moment?’ And they expect me to say something. But I will say the derby, the first game, because everything was new, I received a big slap on my face. I thought I was a big player! My agent didn't believe in me in front of his wife, Ferguson giving me the hairdryer…
“It just made me realise, ‘Hey, you will have to work really hard here if you want to be a United player’. So that's the moment that I want to relive, because it was a hard moment, but such a positive moment."
The Patrice Evra episode of UTD Podcast is out from 16:00 BST on Monday 4 May 2020. To find previous editions, visit www.manutd.com/podcast.