Patrice Evra: 'I begged on the streets as a youngster but that life made me the man I am'

Patrice Evra has revealed how he was forced to beg for money on the streets growing up. But the former Manchester United, Juventus and France defender says the experience helped to shape him as a person and urged youngsters whose own struggles may have worsened during the coronavirus crisis not to lose heart.
Evra - who was one of 25 siblings - was three when his family moved to Paris and admitted that food and money were scarce at times.
“I’ll be honest with you, it was a tough childhood because I’ve got many brothers and sisters, so it wasn’t easy living in the streets,” he told the official United podcast.
“I was in Paris but living in the streets and sometimes I wasn’t even able to have some food. I remember my brother Dominique was working at a McDonalds and so I was going there and on his lunch break he was giving me his own food.
“I’m not scared to say that I’ve begged for money in front of shops. I’ve been in front of shops and when I’ve seen some people I’ve said, ‘Can I have £1?’ and sometimes they were giving me the money and sometimes not, just because I wanted to buy a sandwich.”
Evra believes those early experiences gave him the mental strength to fulfil his dreams of becoming a professional footballer and hopes kids experiencing similarly tough times now can take inspiration from his own rise.
“It was a tough time, but a happy time. I was always happy and always felt lucky, I wouldn’t change anything, I would keep it that way because it built the man I am,” he said.

“Some people, when you succeed they just see the end [result], they just see on the TV the superstar, but actually on the streets I learned so much and it helped me to be strong. Especially after the World Cup when I was the captain and a lot of people were blaming me but I was still strong because I know on the streets I had tougher times than then.

“I’m not a victim, I’m not feeling sad. I don’t want any people to give me much love, because I’m telling those things. I’m just telling my true story. I just want to motivate more kids to never give up no matter what will happen. If you believe you’re going to become someone, if you walk out, if you believe in yourself, you’re going to do it. That’s it.”

Evra says there are few moments in football he remembers quite like his United debut against Manchester City in 2006, when Sir Alex Ferguson’s side lost 3-1 and his new left back signing from Monaco had a game to forget and was hauled off at half-time.
Asked what he was thinking after his debut, Evra said: “‘What the hell am I doing here?’ I was in Monte-Carlo chilling, here the football is so fast. ‘Oh my God you’re so done Patrice. You should go back to Monte-Carlo’. I remember thinking that and the worst part is when the game was finished.
“We go back to my flat with my agent and his wife and my agent looked at me like this and said, ‘Patrice, I’m sorry’. I was like, ‘Why?’ ‘I’m sorry to bring you here. You’ll never make it, it’s too hard, you should stay in Monte-Carlo’. In front of his wife!
“That day I was so bad, so embarrassing. My agent actually telling me I should have never gone to Manchester United. So yeah, I have this tough moment, but it helped me to become who I am.”
Despite the criticism he received after the game, Evra says he would not change a thing about it. “People ask me, ‘What's your best moment?’ And they expect me to say something,” he said. “But I will say the derby, the first game, because everything was new, I receive a big slap on my face. I thought I was a big player! My agent didn't believe in me in front of his wife, Ferguson giving me the hairdryer…
“It just made me realise, ‘Hey, you will have to work really hard here if you want to be a United player’. So that's the moment that I want to relive, because it was a hard moment, but such a positive moment. ”

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