Gabriel Heinze had been a fans’ favourite at Old Trafford, with the crowd loving him for his strong tackling and tough nature. “Argentina!” we would chant when he got stuck in to a really meaty challenge. After Patrice Evra became Manchester United’s first choice left-back, Gabriel Heinze wasn’t prepared to work for his place in the team, and he was off.
It appears as though the club had told him he would be allowed to go if the asking price was met but weren’t expecting hated rivals Liverpool to stump up the cash.
Heinze repeatedly expressed his desire to join Liverpool and was critical of the manager for not allowing him to move to Anfield. United had just won the league for the first time in years but Liverpool managed 3rd, so there was no way the club could let one of our better fringe players join a competitive rival, let alone one we despised as much as Liverpool.
In the end, Real Madrid more than met the asking price and he moved to Spain, leaving a broken relationship with the club and manager behind, something he now regrets.
“I don’t have many regrets from my career as a footballer, but that episode with Ferguson [has] to be one of them,” Heinze told ESPN. “I’m impulsive and strong-willed and this has got me into trouble at times, which was the case at the time when I left United. On reflection, it is easy to see that Ferguson was a major influence on my career, in a positive way. I thought my mind was set to be a winner before moving to United, but I had only completed part of the journey. Sir Alex makes every player he comes into contact with so much more driven and committed. He demands that his players dig as deep for the cause and I’m sorry that we fell out in the final days because I still have so much respect for him.”
United won the league and European Cup the following season whilst Heinze was in Spain with Evra viewed as the best left back in Europe. Heinze last another season at Real Madrid before he was sold to Marseille, who United face in the Champions League tomorrow.