Patrice Evra: Born Winner

man utd defender evra

Player Profile: Patrice Evra

Date of Birth: 15/05/1981

Height: 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)

Position: Left-back

National Team: France

International Caps: 81

International Goals: 0

Club Career

Patrice Evra was born in Dakar, Senegal in 1981. His family relocated to France in 1982 and he spent his formative years at local clubs CO Les Ulis and CSF Bretigny-sur-Orge. He underwent several trials across his youth career until being inducted into the academy at Paris Saint-Germain in 1997.

He originally started his footballing journey as a forward but PSG converted him into a left-winger during his brief spell in the French capital. They released him after several months and the prospect of becoming a professional footballer was beginning to diminish. Destiny intervened when Evra was spotted by an Italian scout at a five-a-side tournament. Torino accepted him after a trial but the Frenchman opted to join third-tier Marsala due to the promise of first-team football.

Marsala was the ultimate platform for the 17-year-old to appeal to a wider audience and six goals during his solitary campaign with the club presented an opportunity to join Serie B outfit Monza. His spell in the second-tier was far less successful but OGC Nice offered him an opportunity to return to France in 2000.

OGC Nice manager Sandro Salvioni initially played Evra in the reserve team which played in the fourth-tier of French football. But he played five second division matches towards the end of the 2000/01 campaign, before being promoted to the first team for the following season. Evra was deployed on the left-wing during the opening match of the season but was forced to fill the void at left-back when Jean-Charles Cirilli was forced to withdraw due to injury.

Evra played a handful of matches at left-back and received high acclaim for his performances. The teenager was reluctant to embrace his new role but Salvioni told him in no uncertain terms that if he wanted to stay in his first team plans then he’d have to play where he’s told. His positional change had the desired effect and Nice earned promotion to Ligue 1 by finishing in 3rd place. Moreover, Evra was included in the UNFP Ligue 2 Team of the Year and earned a lucrative move to local rivals AS Monaco for a reported fee of £3.69 million. 

Didier Deschamps immediately installed Evra as his first-choice left-back and AS Monaco forged a determined pursuit for the Ligue 1 title. They entered a three-horse race with Lyon and Marseille but ended up conceding the title to the former by a mere one-point margin. Despite the heartache of narrowly missing out in Ligue 1, AS Monaco salvaged some pride by comprehensively beating Sochaux 4-1 to win the Coupe de la Ligue.

Monaco were the early frontrunners during the 2003/04 campaign but regressed emphatically in the climatic stages of the season. They ended up finishing in 3rd place behind league winners Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain and it was the prospect of winning the most coveted trophy in club football that absorbed them during the final months of the campaign.

They defeated Lokomotiv Moscow, Real Madrid and Chelsea respectively in the knockout stages to reach the Champions League final. But Jose Mourinho’s FC Porto made easy work of Monaco in Gelsenkirchen with goals from Carlos Alberto, Deco and Dmitri Alenichev leading them to a comprehensive 3-0 win. It was a monumental season for Evra on an individual basis. He was voted UNFP Young Player of the Year and was also named in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year for the first time in his career.

His reputation soared following his auspicious performances for Monaco and clubs across Europe began to battle for his signature. Evra quelled the rumours by pledging his future to the club and further exhibited his loyalty by extending his existing contract until 2008.

Les Monegasques finished 16 points adrift of league winners Lyon at the end of the 2004/05 campaign and also failed to replicate their remarkable run in Europe. Deschamps resigned just weeks into the following season and Evra felt it was the right time to move on. The Frenchman brought an end to his three-and-a-half year spell at the Stade Louis II when he joined Manchester United for £5.5 million in January 2006.

His arrival at Old Trafford coincided with an injury to Argentinian international Gabriel Heinze and Ferguson saw Evra as an ideal replacement. However, his debut left a lot to be desired and he was withdrawn at half-time in a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City after failing to make an impact.

Evra made 14 appearances in all competitions during his maiden campaign but he started the following season as understudy to his French compatriot Mikael Silvestre. Ferguson subsequently installed him as his first-choice left-back around the festive period and Evra played an instrumental role in guiding Manchester United to their first Premier League title in three years.

He also scored his first goal for the club in a 3-0 win against Everton in November 2006 and added his first-ever Champions League goal in the famous 7-1 drubbing of AS Monaco in April 2007. Evrs was also named in the PFA Team of the Year despite making only 24 league appearances.

Manchester United translated their domestic form onto the European stage during the 2007/08 season and Evra was heavily involved in their success. They edged Chelsea by two points in the Premier League title race with a 2-0 win against Wigan Athletic in the final fixture of the season sealing their second successive league title.

Chelsea looked to seek revenge when the two giants of English football met in the first all-English European Cup final in Moscow. Cristiano Ronaldo headed Manchester United into an early lead before Frank Lampard equalized on the cusp of half-time. It was a nail-biting encounter which ended level after extra-time. In the resulting shootout, Edwin Van Der Sar saved Nicolas Anelka’s penalty to crown United champions of Europe.

More silverware followed for Manchester United and Evra during the 2008/09 season. They triumphed over Chelsea once again in the FA Community Shield and added the FIFA World Club Cup and League Cup to their trophy cabinet in December and February respectively. Evra was involved in an altercation with a Chelsea groundsman during the previous campaign and consequently received a four-match ban prior to Christmas.

Manchester United capped another phenomenal season by pipping arch-rivals Liverpool to the Premier League title to seal a third consecutive Premier League crown. They also cruised to a second consecutive UEFA Champions League final by defeating Internazionale, FC Porto and Arsenal in the knockout stages.

However, FC Barcelona eased past Manchester United with goals from Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi propelling the Catalonians to victory in Rome. Cristiano Ronaldo subsequently joined Real Madrid for a world record £80 million fee following their defeat in the Italian capital and United struggled to fill the void left by the Portuguese superstar.

Chelsea thwarted Manchester United from winning a fourth consecutive title by securing a domestic double under the tutelage of Carlo Ancelotti. Bayern Munich also condemned Manchester United to a quarter-final exit in the UEFA Champions League. Nevertheless, the 2009/10 season ended with silverware, as Evra captained them to a 2-1 win against Aston Villa in the 2010 League Cup final.

The Red Devils reaffirmed their superiority in England and Europe during the 2010/11 campaign. They successfully snatched the Premier League title from Chelsea with a 1-1 draw against Blackburn Rovers in the penultimate match of the season and also reached a third Champions League final in four seasons.

FC Barcelona once again completely outplayed the Red Devils at Wembley and won 3-1 via goals from Pedro, Lionel Messi and David Villa. It was a bitter pill to swallow and United would never reach the Champions League final under Ferguson again.

Manchester City also looked set to cause a revolution in the Premier League. The Citizens had invested heavily in the squad since their takeover in 2009 and they entered an enthralling two-horse race with United for the title during the 2011/12 season. United won six of their opening eight league matches and also recorded a famous 8-2 victory against Arsenal at Old Trafford in August 2011.

However, Manchester United slipped to a debilitating 6-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester City at Old Trafford in mid-October. Evra accused Luis Suarez of racial abuse after a 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Anfield in October 2011. The Uruguayan forward was later handed an eight-match ban following an investigation by the Football Association.

Despite their defeat against City, the Red Devils maintained a strong run of form to enter the final stretch of the season in pole position. But a defeat to Wigan Athletic and a costly draw against Everton reduced the deficit to three points ahead of their meeting at the Etihad Stadium. Vincent Kompany scored the only goal of the match to send his side top of the table on goal difference and United paid for their late-season capitulation by watching their local rivals lift the Premier League title.

Ferguson searched for revenge in what would prove to be his final season as manager of Manchester United. With what has since been described as an aging squad, Manchester United cruised to the Premier League title, eventually winning the trophy by eleven points.

David Moyes crumbled under the scrutinising pressure of stepping into the shoes of Sir Alex Ferguson. United plummeted into 7th place and United lost the core of their team when Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand announced their decision to leave Old Trafford. Evra followed in their footsteps and joined Italian titans Juventus for just £1.71 million in July 2014.

His spell in Turin brought with it a prolonged period of success for the Old Lady. Evra won five major honours at Juventus, including 2 Serie A titles and in 2015 he played in his fifth Champions League final, losing to FC Barcelona.

Evra lost his grip on his position in the starting line-up during the 2016/17 season and returned to France to sign for Marseille in January 2017. He initially featured regularly for the first team but an altercation with a supporter in November 2017 led to his contract being terminated by the club. He spent a brief period at West Ham United during the second half of the 2017/18 season before announcing his official retirement from professional football in July 2019.

The 38-year-old scored 24 goals in 733 appearances across his illustrious 20-year playing career. He also won 21 major honours, including seven domestic league titles in England and Italy respectively and featured in a staggering five UEFA Champions League finals. 

International Career

Evra played eleven times for France U21s between 2002 and 2003 under the management of Raymond Domenech. He was included in the 31-man preliminary squad ahead of Euro 2004 but missed out once Jacques Santini trimmed the squad to 23 players.

Domenech replaced Santini after the tournament and Evra was given his debut in a 1-1 draw against Bosnia & Herzegovina in August 2004. He made a further four appearances due to the absence of Eric Abidal but was unable to retain his place once the then-Lyon defender returned.

The Frenchman went two years without receiving a single cap and also missed the 2006 World Cup squad. He was reinstalled into the national set-up during the Euro 2008 qualifiers and played in the 4-1 and 2-0 defeats to Netherlands and Italy respectively as France suffered a humiliating elimination in the group stage.

Thierry Henry was demoted to the bench ahead of the 2010 World Cup and Domenech selected Evra as the new captain. However, Domenech sparked controversy by sending Nicolas Anelka home from South Africa following a dispute which took place at half-time in their 2-0 defeat against Mexico.

Evra decided to lead a protest in which the players refused to train. He was immediately stripped of his captaincy and received widespread criticism for his actions. Following an investigation by the FFP, he received a five-match international ban.

Laurent Blanc recalled Evra into the French squad in March 2011 and he played the full 90 minutes in a Euro 2012 qualifier against Luxembourg. He went onto play for France at Euro 2012, where they were eliminated by eventual champions Spain in the quarter-finals.

France had begun to assemble a very strong squad once Didier Deschamps was appointed manager in 2012 but Evra retained his position in the side. They suffered elimination in the quarter-final of the 2014 World Cup but came within a whisker of winning Euro 2016 on home turf, in what proved to be Evra’s final tournament for France.

Les Blues finished at the summit of a group containing Switzerland, Albania and Romania to progress to the Round of 16. They narrowly prevailed 2-1 against Republic of Ireland before beating dark horses Iceland in the quarter-final.

They were pitted against world champions Germany in the semi-final, who headed into the tie as favourites. However, a brace from Antoine Griezmann handed them a surprising victory and booked their place in the final against Portugal.

Portugal had won just one match in normal time across the entire tournament and their chances of defeating the hosts virtually evaporated when Cristiano Ronaldo was withdrawn on 25 minutes due to injury. But Eder wrote his name in the history books by scoring the decisive extra-time winner on 109 minutes.

Despite the defeat, Evra received widespread praise for his performances during the tournament, and after a tumultuous international career, it seems that he finally won over his countrymen. Evra finished his international career with 81 caps and played at five major international competitions.

Where Is Patrice Evra Now?

Manchester United announced that Evra would be returning to the club as a trainee coach while completing his coaching badges in September 2019. He has also featured on Sky Sports as a pundit on numerous occasions.

Did You Know? Interesting facts about Patrice Evra

– Evra was named in both the FIFA FIFPro World XI and UEFA Team of the Year in 2009.

– In 2009, Evra revealed that he boasts 24 siblings.

– He speaks five languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. He has also practiced Korean.