Evra happy to tackle new challenges with Juventus

Evra happy to tackle new challenges with Juventus
Patrice Evra in his Juventus jersey. Evra, who is a difficult defender for anyone, has signed for three-time reigning Italian Serie A champions Juventus.

He may not be the first name on Manchester United fans' minds when recalling the stalwarts who helped the club win their five most recent English Premier League titles.

But, arguably after Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand, left-back Patrice Evra was one of the most vital cogs in United's successful title runs in the past decade - a rock-solid defender who doubled up as a speedy attacking threat down the wing.

After eight triumphant years in which he also won the 2008 Champions League trophy and three League Cups, one can forgive the 33-year-old Frenchman for finishing his career right now, just as the Red Devils bring in 18-year-old Luke Shaw to replace him.

Yet, Evra refuses to stop and set himself up for a new challenge last month when he signed for three-time reigning Italian Serie A champions Juventus for a reported £1.2 million (S$2.5 million).

The reason is quite simple: He still wants to win.

"I'm starting a new adventure," he told Sky Sports.

"The offer from Juventus was perfect, because all they think about is winning, and that reflects my culture - I've always want to win at all costs.

"I want to show Serie A the player I have been for Manchester United, where I won everything."

Evra's desire for a new challenge saw him turn down an offer from new United coach Louis van Gaal to give him the captain's armband permanently.

But while he has published an open letter thanking the Red Devils fraternity for his eight-year stint, he is looking forward to guide Juventus to their fourth straight Serie A triumph - something which even he has not done back at Old Trafford.

He told The Straits Times in an e-mail interview: "The most difficult thing to do, I think, is to retain the league.

"With Manchester United, we won the league three times in a row from 2007 to 2009 but the fourth is the most difficult.

"That's why this will be the main challenge. After that, we want to do well in the Champions League because Juventus are a massive club and we have to show something better in the Champions League."

He will have a familiar face for company when he joins his new team-mates - striker Carlos Tevez, with whom he had struck up a close partnership during the Argentinian's two-year stint with United.

"Carlos is a warrior," he gushed. "It was tough for me to see him leave United for another team. We're great friends on and off the pitch."

As Evra brings his know-how to the Serie A, a league which appreciates its defenders almost as much as its strikers, he is also eager to spread Juventus' winning ways around the world as they embark on their first Asia-Pacific tour this week.

He is particularly excited to be among the first footballers to play in the new 55,000-seater National Stadium in Singapore.

"It's a privilege. I think football is great and gives you that kind of opportunity," he said.

"I hope we're going to play well, to show the fans that we are really pleased to come to Singapore."

In fact, despite a career filled with victories small and big, Evra still insists that he is fortunate to be among the most successful footballers in Europe.

He said: "At the end of my career, saying that I played for Manchester United and saying I played for Juventus, it's just a dream.

"I think every kid would love to have my career, that's why I think I'm lucky, that's why I'm working hard to keep that luck going."

siangyee@sph.com.sg

This article was published on Aug 7 in The Straits Times.


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