When Patrice Evra made his disastrous Manchester United debut in a 3-1 defeat against Manchester City, fans were probably wondering if the club had made a big mistake.
However, Evra turned things around and eventually earned legendary status during his eight-and-a-half-year spell at Old Trafford, before joining Juventus in 2014.
Here are seven reasons why he will always be loved in the red half of Manchester…
If you’re going to score your first goal in the Champions League, why not do it when your team are 6-1 up in the quarter-finals?
United were already cruising against AS Roma at Old Trafford, after goals from Michael Carrick, Alan Smith, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo had made for a memorable night.
However, Evra decided to have the final word and provide the icing on the cake. The substitute drove down the right wing and let the ball roll across his body before firing a low shot past Doni.
“I couldn’t believe what was happening against Roma,” said Evra. “But after a game like that there is a very strange sensation. You are happy. Of course you are, you have just won 7-1 – but it’s almost too much.”
Evra finally became a regular at United in the 2007-08 season, and his performances made him an integral part of the club’s success.
His forward runs, incredible fitness and pinpoint crosses ensured that he was now regarded as one of the best left-backs in the world.
The Frenchman made 48 appearances for the club that season and put in a brilliant performance in the Champions League final against Chelsea as United won a Premier League-European Cup Double.
At a time when most footballers were like media trained robots, Patrice Evra and Park Ji Sung had huge personalities and were like a breath of fresh air for Manchester United fans.
Despite speaking different languages, Park and Evra formed an unlikely friendship and were soon inseparable off the pitch, while also linking up well on it.
“I think Ji is an example to every player,” said Evra. “He runs for everyone. Sometimes if I’m tired I know I’ll be okay because Ji will run for me.
“I think he’s one of the most important players in the team because he doesn’t stop running, he can run all day.”
😂 🎬 Patrice Evra with Ian Wright & Park Ji-Sung…
“Do you think we should do Rush Hour 4?
— The Sportsman (@TheSportsman) June 21, 2018
Manchester United fans often complain that players don’t care about the club and are only interested in money – but Evra was a wonderful exception.
This is a man who understands what it means to play for the club, he just gets ‘it.’ Evra always gave his all whenever he played for United; he became the fans representative on the pitch.
“I got a load of DVDs. About the Munich disaster and the Busby Babes, about Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law, about Cantona. The whole story of the club,” Evra said.
“All the young players here need to understand the history of the club. After I watched those DVDs I realised I needed to respect the shirt. I needed to respect the story.
“Every time I play that is in my head. What a privilege it is to play for Manchester United. When you pull on the shirt you are pulling on history, and I say thanks to God that I play for this club.”
After Luis Suarez was found guilty of racially abusing Evra in 2011, it was inevitable that Suarez would return from his eight-game ban at Old Trafford.
The Liverpool striker refused to shake Evra’s hand before the game as tensions ran high, but the Frenchman had the last laugh as United won the game 2-1.
Evra enjoyed the victory more than most and took great satisfaction in celebrating in front of a disgruntled Suarez and delighted United fans before a mass brawl ensued.
The left-back then had another dig in 2013, biting into a fake arm after Suarez had bitten Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. Sweet revenge.
Manchester United’s 2013-14 campaign was a complete disaster as David Moyes replaced Sir Alex Ferguson and the club went from Premier League Champions to seventh in the league.
The one highlight of that awful season was an exciting Champions League campaign, with United facing Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals.
With the tie level in the second leg, Evra raced to the edge of the area and pounced on a loose ball before smashing a cannonball of a shot into the top corner past an astonished Manuel Neuer.
The ecstasy may have been short-lived, with Bayern Munich going up the other end and equalising 73 seconds later, but those 72 seconds were incredible.
— Goal (@goal) April 9, 2019
Despite leaving Old Trafford in 2014, Evra maintained his love for the club and still regularly attends United matches.
He was even in the stands, along with Paul Pogba, during the second leg of United’s Champions League tie against PSG in 2018-19. After Marcus Rashford’s late penalty sent the Red Devils into the quarter-finals, Evra filmed himself celebrating the result while surrounded by angry Frenchmen.
Evra later claimed that PSG had complained to UEFA about his over-the-top celebrations. The sore losers.
— Patrice Evra (@Evra) March 6, 2019