Patrice Evra has admitted it was difficult to leave Manchester United for Italian champions Juventus in 2014 but the decision was all down to him.
The Frenchman made 379 appearances for Man United and was loved by everyone at Old Trafford, a character in the dressing room that has been missed ever since.
After a difficult season for the club, where David Moyes had come in and been sacked just nine months later, Juventus offered a new challenge. Evra played 45 times, more than most, at the age of 32. After nine years at United in which Evra had won everything there is to be won except the FA Cup, he said it was his decision to leave.
“The only person who takes the full responsibility why I leave Man United is myself,” Evra said.
“I am the one to make the choice.
“Juventus had already talked to me. The challenge was so exciting. [Former-coach Antonio] Conte had called me a lot during the World Cup. It was not difficult to go to Juventus because it is such a big, historic club.
“But it was difficult to leave Manchester United.”
“The president of Juventus, Andrea Agnelli called me,” Evra continued.
“He said ‘Look, we didn’t deposit your contract to the Italian league [yet], you can change your mind, but we really want you here.’
“And I feel somebody really wants me strongly, with a lot of respect.
“After that, I called Ed Woodward to say, ‘I am sorry, I already gave my word to Juventus, I can’t go back [on it].’ ”
Evra is missed by United fans, but we cannot be sure whether his ability is missed as much as it would have been five years ago. His defensive contributions were lessening by the game, and van Gaal brought in young English left-back Luke Shaw to replace him, a signing that will pay dividends now and throughout the next five years.
Sir Alex Ferguson singled out Evra and Giggs as the two players in his squad who would go on to make great managers in the future, so here’s hoping we’ll see Paddy back at Old Trafford at some point in a coaching capacity.