Former Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra announces his retirement from football earlier this week, seeing the end of a career that saw him win numerous league titles and the Champions League with us.
The lowest point of his career came when United played Liverpool at Anfield in 2012 and Luis Suarez racially abused him. The Liverpool striker admitted to calling Evra a “negro” in the midst of an argument after the defender confronted him for kicking him.
Suarez argued that he didn’t mean the word in a racist way, that it was commonplace in South America, but language experts disagreed. They claimed that when used between friends, “negro” wasn’t necessarily racist, but in the context it was used, it was certainly racist, and Suarez was banned as a result.
When the teams next played each other, Suarez refused to shake Evra’s hand before kick-off. He was made to apologise by Liverpool after the game, with Kenny Dalglish condemning Suarez’s behaviour.
Liverpool fans, as they do, began a bizarre conspiracy theory claiming that in fact Evra had been the one to pull his hand away, ignoring admission of the player himself.
Evra has received abuse from Liverpool fans every time he has played them, for United and otherwise, with one fan spotted for making monkey gestures at the player.
Speaking with The Daily Mail, Evra has claimed that he could never hate someone, so doesn’t hate Suarez, despite his racist abuse.
I received a lot of letters of death. For months, I had a security car parked outside my house in Alderley Edge 24 hours a day. It wasn’t easy for my family but I grew up on tough streets in Les Ulis so for me it was like something normal. But maybe for another person, it was crazy. Even my brother was saying “Be careful” when we were out in the car.
I don’t know if Suarez is a racist. I don’t know his family. I don’t know his background. But racism is so big for so many years and that day, there was racist abuse. So when we went to the hearing, they listened to me because I said I didn’t want them to punish him and I don’t know him close enough to say he is racist but he used that racist word.
I don’t hate him. I never hated him. I wanted to punch him at the time but for me to hate someone is impossible. I don’t have hate in my heart. I can react but hate is a strong word for me. When I was asked to pick a team of my best players, I named Suarez as one of my XI. He was the best striker at that time.
Why should I not recognise his talent even if he isn’t a good person? I don’t even know if he is a good person. We had one episode. At that time, I wouldn’t have gone on holiday with him but I can’t hate him.