Patrice Evra's Top 5 Manchester United Moments
I will decide in two weeks about what I am going to do. I'm not lying to anyone. There have been a lot of rumours about I am going or staying. But, at the moment, I didn't decide anything. My agent will have a meeting with Manchester and we will see. It will be easy for me but that's my point of view. I just wanted to wait until the end and decide what I'm going to do. You know how much I love this club and it's difficult. The reason is an important reason but you will see as I will tell if I am staying or leaving this club at the end of the season.
The vice-captain, who has been at the club for over eight years, has become a bit of a cult hero for United fans.
Based on form alone, Evra should be on his way out of the club, but he is so well-liked by the fans and the players that his exit would leave a huge hole to fill.
But why is he so popular? Here are five of his best moments at the club.
Finding the Nearest Church
Oliver Kay wrote for The Times (h/t AbsolutelyUnited) about the beginning of Patrice Evra's career at United.
On his first day as a Manchester United player, Patrice Evra asked Gary Neville for directions to the nearest church. His captain was racking his brain, trying to recall whether he had seen one near the club’s training ground in Carrington, when the new signing smiled and said that he simply needed somewhere where he could “thank God for letting me join the biggest club in the world.”
Right from the very beginning, Evra set himself apart from most modern footballers, with him showing a real appreciation for the club he played for.
This was just the first of many remarks from Evra which demonstrated just how much he appreciated playing for United, how important the history was to him and why he felt the responsibility to respect the shirt.
With United having gone a couple of years without winning the title, and the press claiming the club was entering the same decline that brought an end to Liverpool's success following the 1980s, 2006-2007 was a season of resurgence for United.
Evra had joined the club in January 2006 and in his first full season showed that the £5.5 million that the club paid for him was an absolute bargain.
He was voted in to the PFA Team of the Year ahead of the likes of Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy, but his highlight came in the Champions League.
With less than 10 minutes remaining and United beating Roma 6-1 in the quarter-finals, Evra picked up the ball outside the box and managed to find the bottom corner. This was only the second goal of his United career but one that put him in United's history books.
Fighting Chelsea Groundstaff
In 2008, following a game between Chelsea and United at Stamford Bridge, Evra had to be held back from one of the groundstaff who had shouted insults at him.
According to the FA report, Evra admitted to pushing Jason Griffin, the Head Groundsman, but he denied punching Sam Bethell, a member of the groundstaff.
Several United players were taking part in a warm-down after the game when Evra had to jump out of the way to avoid Bethell's lawnmower. Every visiting club is entitled to take part in a warm-down session on the pitch after a game, yet the Chelsea groundstaff were seemingly making it difficult for United to do this. Premier League rules state that it can take no longer than 15 minutes and penalty areas cannot be used.
United's first team fitness coach, Tony Strudwick, instructed the players to move to the penalty area though, after not being given the room to take part in their routines on the pitch. The FA report revealed there were 17 members of groundstaff on the pitch at the time. Given the warm-down should only take quarter of an hour, it was strange that the groundstaff didn't just wait for United to finish, and one might suggest they were there to provoke the United players, who had just lost the game.
Studwick and Evra's account of what happened was very similar. Griffin was walking around with a pitchfork and was being aggressive, whilst Bethell was getting dangerously close to the players with the lawnmower. When Studwick confronted Griffin about this, he said "I'll shove the ******* fork up your arse."
Evra tried to get between Studwick and Griffin, but the FA dismissed the United version of events because of how Griffin came across in the witness box.
Bethel shouted abuse at Evra, although the player testified he didn't hear what it was. Bethel admitted he called Evra a "f*****g idiot." Bethel then claimed that Evra hit him on his right ear, meaning that right-handed Evra would have thrown a punch with his left hand. The DVD footage did not support the claim that Evra punched anyone, but he was still found guilty and banned for four games.
When United thrashed Chelsea 3-0 at Old Trafford in 2009, The Telegraph reported on Evra's dedication following the game.
I dedicate the victory over Chelsea to the English FA. I’m doing so because I am still unable to stomach having been given a four-match suspension by them. It is very pleasing to beat Chelsea by three goals, as they are one of our rivals for the title.
Thunderbolt Against Bayern
The few seconds between Evra striking the ball at the Allianz Arena and Bayern Munich immediately equalising at the other end were probably the best any United fans experienced this season. It shows just how far the club had fallen during David Moyes' reign.
Evra caught the ball perfectly and scored easily the best goal he's ever managed for the club, leaving one of the world's best goalkeepers, Manuel Neuer, with no chance.
If his goal wasn't impressive enough, his explanation for the goal, which he gave to MUTV after the game, could melt the hearts of many a United fan.
It was an emotional day, the day before the game. Everyone had been to the Munich memorial, where the plane had crashed with the Busby Babes. It was amazing. I was talking with a young player like Adnan Januzaj and telling him, 'These people were like us, they were on a plane going to play a football game.' And at the end they never see their families again.
I always pray before games, I pray every day – to save my family, I even sometimes pray for my enemy. But I asked, 'Can I give something for the Busby Babes'. I didn't say a goal, but just to make sure we played for them in that game. That's why when I scored that goal, you can see I was really emotional, I was angry. I couldn't believe it. That's my little secret – and now everyone knows that secret. In the end we went out of the competition and that is why I was really disappointed, but it was a special moment for me.
Kicking Racism out of Football
Several footballers have claimed that they have heard racism on the pitch but didn't report it.
Evra made sure that he did his bit for kicking racism out of football when reporting the racial abuse he suffered from Liverpool's Luis Suarez.
Both Suarez and the FA's legal representation agreed that this was not a case of one man's word against another. Suarez admitted to calling Evra "negro" and the independent panel dismissed the player's defence that he used this word in a friendly way.
Experts in Southern American language agreed that "negro" wasn't necessarily an offensive term in Uruguay, if used between friends or people familiar with each other, but that it could still be used as an insult and a racist term depending on the situation.
Amidst an argument, which is what both Suarez and Evra testified was happening at the time the word was used, "negro" would be deemed offensive and racist in Uruguay.
Still, Suarez and Liverpool FC refused to apologise for the incident, but they also did not appeal the decision.
When Evra next played against Suarez he tried to shake his hand but the Liverpool striker refused, much to the embarrassment of their club. The player was immediately made to apologise, as reported by The Guardian, with Liverpool's managing director, Ian Ayre, admitting the club were "extremely disappointed" in Suarez and that he had "let down" the club, players, manager and fans.
It's important to note that Suarez never apologised for racially abusing Evra, though, so it is commendable that the latter used his strength of character to move past the incident and show Suarez how to behave.