Champions League 100 club: Patrice Evra
A one-time UEFA Champions League winner and four-time runner-up, Patrice Evra was one of the most consistent defenders in Europe for more than a decade. The former Monaco, Manchester United and Juventus left-back is the latest player featured in our series looking at the competition’s elite band of centurions.
Manchester United: 65
Best performance: winner (2008)
If you don’t remember him …
The charismatic Frenchman was a strong, athletic full-back who was equally at home surging forwards as he was defending. Those traits are frequently seen in modern full-backs or wing-backs but when Evra burst onto the scene more than 15 years ago they were much rarer, making him a pioneer in his position.
Evra’s pace and delivery from wide areas made him a perfect fit for the swashbuckling Manchester United side he represented for eight years while his physicality, aerial ability and tactical astuteness cemented him as one of the finest defenders in Europe.
How he made it to 100 appearances
Evra started his professional career in Italy but his ascent really began in two seasons at Nice, particularly the promotion-winning 2001/02 campaign. A move to Monaco followed with Didier Deschamps insisting on Evra playing at full-back as opposed to any of the more advanced positions he had previously filled. It proved a master stroke with Evra sparkling as the Principality side reached the 2004 UEFA Champions League final.
Manchester United swooped in January 2006 and the trophies rolled in. Evra won five Premier League titles and three League Cups, though the crowning moment was surely the 2008 UEFA Champions League triumph against Chelsea. His century of appearances in that competition actually came while at Juventus, where he also won domestic doubles in both 2015 and 2016.
His best moments
- After a testing first 18 months at Old Trafford, Evra began the 2007/08 season as the first-choice left-back and never looked back. He made ten appearances in the UEFA Champions League, including the entire 120 minutes in the final. He was rewarded with a new four-year contract extension shortly after United lifted the trophy.
- Evra’s United career was coming to a close when they headed to Bayern München in the 2013/14 quarter-final but, in his last UEFA Champions League game for the club, he scored a sensational yet poignant goal. “It was a special goal for me,” he said. “The day before the game, everyone had been to the Munich memorial where the plane had crashed with the Busby Babes. When I scored that goal, you can see I was really emotional.”
- What better way to celebrate back-to-back Serie A titles than scoring in the final league game? Evra’s diving far-post header got the party started as Juventus crushed Sampdoria 5-0 and he was rejoicing again a week later as Massimiliano Allegri’s men completed the ‘double double’ by seeing off Milan in the 2016 Coppa Italia showpiece.
What others said about him
“I’ve always been blessed with a good memory but Patrice Evra? There’s a man with a brain. He could speak five languages and was a great help in the dressing room. Lovely guy. His father was a diplomat, it showed.”
Sir Alex Ferguson, former Manchester United manager
“His consistency is incredible. He’s been asked to play every single week for seven or eight years, and the physical drain on you is massive, but he has been absolutely sensational. He was the best left-back in the Premier League for years. His influence in the dressing room is not something you will understand unless you’ve been in there with him. At times, he was almost the glue that connected it.
“He’s so vibrant around the dressing room, a huge character. He has a fantastic personality. He’s a leader, somebody who would really get everybody going before a game. What surprised me, when I first started hearing him talk in the changing room, he was really passionate about the things he was saying to the team.”
Gary Neville, former Manchester United team-mate
“A player I always look up to is Patrice Evra. He’s family, that’s how I see him, and he’s always looked after me, helped me and given me advice. He’s someone on the pitch who is very serious and very professional, yet away from the pitch he’s a brother and someone you can have a laugh with. He’s someone very important for a football team and for a club, and as a person he’s someone who can help you a lot.”
Paul Pogba, former Juventus team-mate
In case you missed them …
Champions League 100 club: Andrea Pirlo
Champions League 100 club: David Beckham
Champions League 100 club: Frank Lampard
Champions League 100 club: Andriy Shevchenko
Champions League 100 club: Oliver Kahn
Champions League 100 club: Luís Figo