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quality
27th January '12, 04:25 PM
Patrice Evra retains vivid memories of his first day as a professional footballer. He had just joined Marsala, a Sicilian club in Italy's third division, and was thrilled beyond all measure to dress in a brand new tracksuit and flip-flops before leaving the hotel for training. Manchester United's left-back recalls his 17-year-old self gazing at the reflection in the bedroom mirror with a sense of unprecedented pride and unconfined joy. "It was like paradise," he has said. "To this day, it is the best feeling I've had in football."

At the time, Evra was the only black man at a club situated in a very white city on Sicily's west coast but he came to rather relish his novelty value. The then striker or left-winger happily remembers being regularly stopped on the street so people who "had never seen a black guy" could pose for pictures with him. On other occasions, complete strangers invited the teenager into their homes for meals.

Finding himself as the centre of overwhelmingly friendly attention at what he fondly regards as "an amazing, family club" proved a most welcome interlude for a young footballer who fantasised about becoming the new Romário but had previously seemed in danger of becoming lost in the crowd.

The son of a Senegalese diplomat and a Cape Verdean mother, Evra was born in Dakar but moved to Brussels at the age of one when his father was posted to Belgium. Two years later the rapidly expanding family – Evra was one of 25 children – moved to Paris where he would grow up. It should have been a privileged upbringing but two divorces, three marriages and the arrival of a new baby virtually every year ensured Evra Sr struggled to provide for his offspring.

Despite this chaotically cash-strapped childhood in increasingly forbidding neighbourhoods, the young Patrice secured impressive grades at school, demonstrating a linguistic gift that has left him fluent in five languages and in the process of being taught Korean by his good friend and United team-mate Park Ji-sung. One of Evra's principal quintet of languages, Wolof, is widely spoken in Senegal but, despite his parents' initial determination to bring the family up in a traditional west African manner, he increasingly regarded himself as French.

A watershed occurred when, aged 10, he travelled to Dakar to be circumcised amid what seemed alien celebrations. "It wasn't a happy experience, I was too westernised," he recalled. "I haven't been back to Senegal since. I'd need a real incentive to return." Further alienation from his roots took place when Evra opted to represent France rather than Senegal and faced an angry backlash. "I was called a monkey who grovels for the white man and labelled a money-obsessed traitor to the nation," he has said, left dismayed by what he regards as a form of inverted racism.

It is hard to imagine that the expected vitriol raining down on the 30-year-old from the stands at Anfield on Saturday will prove remotely as painful. Indeed, those Liverpool fans who cannot forgive the defender for accusing Luis Suárez of racial abuse and maintain, disingenuously, that the case represents a cynical playing of "the race card" are possibly also unaware that, on two previous occasions, Evra declined to support allegations he had been racially abused.

During another game against Liverpool, in 2006, two deaf fans, both lip-readers, complained to the police that Evra had been racially insulted by Steve Finnan, Liverpool's right-back. With Evra declining to become involved in the matter and Finnan vehemently denying such suggestions, video evidence eventually cleared the Republic of Ireland international.

Then, in April 2008, the so-called Battle of the Bridge erupted. This time Evra came to blows with Sam Bethell, Chelsea's head groundsman, as he warmed down after a match at Stamford Bridge. Two members of United's coaching staff, Mike Phelan and Richard Hartis, alleged that the player had been racially abused, but Bethell successfully rebutted their claims. Once again distancing himself from the furore, Evra declined to cite racist provocation as his defence and ended up being banned for four games and fined £15,000.

A little over two years later it was his mouth rather than his fists that set Evra on a collision course with many in France when he captained Les Bleus during a disastrous, controversy-suffused, World Cup campaign in South Africa. When Nicolas Anelka was expelled from the squad for subjecting France's coach, Raymond Domenech, to a string of obscenities at half-time during a defeat against Mexico in Polokwane, Evra responded to what he calls "the fire inside me" and led a dressing room mutiny, in which Domenech's players refused to train before losing their final group game against the host nation in disappointing fashion.

With certain senior French politicians claiming that such a barrack-room lawyer should never represent the country again, Evra had succeeded in dividing a nation but, ultimately, such militancy merely resulted in a five-match international ban followed by his quiet restoration to a team now under Laurent Blanc's control.

One of Blanc's former France team-mates, Didier Deschamps, is the manager Evra credits with transforming him into a leading defender. The pair came together at Monaco, where Deschamps finally convinced Evra that while he might have enjoyed himself on the left wing at Marsala, Monza and Nice, he would never cut it as a high-calibre creator. An initially reluctant left-back soon attracted a £5.5m bid from Sir Alex Ferguson and he has rarely looked back. The Parisian schoolboy who learnt "to fight for everything" and still remembers being the subject of mocking laughter from classmates when a school teacher revealed Evra's ambition to become a professional footballer had transcended all expectations.

Not that his transition to Premier League life was entirely seamless. At first Evra, his wife, Sandra, who is white, and their son, Lenny, now six, struggled to adapt. The food seemed like rubbish, the weather "a slap in the face" and it took a little time to establish himself in the first team. The sunny, stress-free days back in Monaco when he had startled team-mates by becoming part of Prince Albert's social circle must have appeared a distant mirage.

Rather than whinge, Evra endeavoured to immerse himself in United's culture, spending his evenings reading books and watching DVDs detailing the club's history and personalties. Once fully acquainted with the Munich disaster, the Busby Bates, Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and Eric Cantona, he began to feel the sort of extraordinary pride and belonging that he suspected had been long since left behind at Marsala. "I realised what a privilege it is to play for Manchester United," he said. "I learnt to respect the shirt, to respect the legend."

Certain Liverpool fans may demur but when Evra walks out at Anfield on Saturday he will command the wholesale respect of those who believe that his stance against Suárez – at times personally costly – will do more than a thousand well-meant campaigns to help eradicate casual, unthinking racism in English football.

From the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/jan/27/patrice-evra-manchester-united-liverpool).

Actually think its a good read, he comes across well no doubt. Bolded up a couple of interesting bits given recent events.

Villain_94
27th January '12, 05:01 PM
good read, evra is a smart guy


Further alienation from his roots took place when Evra opted to represent France rather than Senegal and faced an angry backlash. "I was called a monkey who grovels for the white man and labelled a money-obsessed traitor to the nation," he has said, left dismayed by what he regards as a form of inverted racism.

:lol:

Big 45
27th January '12, 07:03 PM
Good article.

Still disgusted though that Kenny Dalglish and Liverpool released statements trying to smear Evra's reputation by saying he had a history of lying about being a victim of racism, when the actual facts of the previous incidents were clearly available. Yet still the manager and fans choose to ignore the truth and continue to call Evra a liar. Shameful that they never apologised either.

Kartel
27th January '12, 07:10 PM
Evra >

Shower Posse
27th January '12, 07:20 PM
Good article.

Still disgusted though that Kenny Dalglish and Liverpool released statements trying to smear Evra's reputation by saying he had a history of lying about being a victim of racism, when the actual facts of the previous incidents were clearly available. Yet still the manager and fans choose to ignore the truth and continue to call Evra a liar. Shameful that they never apologised either.

Once scum.........Always Scum

Big 45
27th January '12, 07:30 PM
Once scum.........Always Scum
.

Vox Populi
27th January '12, 08:00 PM
Evra >

.
Has a lot of time for the fans amd supporters.I remember one time I saw him leaving OT and he was one of the first to start and last to leave signing autographs and take pics.was actualy talking to everyone for time. Seems like a safe guy tbh

Strife
28th January '12, 03:08 AM
remember when he played in Monaco, they had a sick team went to the CL finals but lost


Evra
Guily
Rothen
Adebayor
Dado Prso

sick team>>>>>>>>

chris89
28th January '12, 10:00 AM
remember when he played in Monaco, they had a sick team went to the CL finals but lost


Evra
Guily
Rothen
Adebayor
Dado Prso

sick team>>>>>>>>

and Morientes, they knocked us out :pinkface:

oh and Evra>>>>>>Liverpool

EA
28th January '12, 11:28 AM
I'm an Arsenal fan but after the way he handled himself during the Suarez bullshit..


Evra >

.

Mr Nasri
28th January '12, 11:36 AM
liverpool <<<<<<<<<
always hated them

Scrappy123
28th January '12, 01:33 PM
That's what I was saying. People called him a Liar. He has never lied about this sort of thing before.



Hopefully he has a sick match.