On Ferguson, 2007

When it comes to Alex Ferguson I just want to thank the Lord. Whatever may happen in the future, I have been trained by Alex Ferguson. When we leave the pitch he’s like everybody’s dad. But when it’s game time, wow. The club owes him a lot. When he eventually leaves it will not be easy. But that won’t happen too soon – he’s told us seeing us play makes him feel younger.”

On the fans, 2009

“When I arrived in England, I had the impression that I was doing a new job because of the impact of the stadiums and the supporters. There it’s a religion. We don’t lose on purpose, nobody does that, we all go out there to win. In three years at United I have just lost two games on the trot for the first time, I understand that we have to win the next game. But even when we’ve lost, they’ve still applauded us, not booed. I’m at a great club. When you have 76,000 people behind you, it gives you a massive boost.”

On booing Tevez, 2009

“I have been joking with him about the reception he will get. I don’t know if the fans will boo him or clap him. He did a great job at Manchester United. He respected the shirt and the fans understand that. But if they boo him I will join in. I have had a message from him saying they are going to win. I am not so sure. I just hope he plays. It will be special to play against him because he is such a good friend. But he is a City player now and we cannot let him beat Manchester United.””

On United’s history, 2009

“To play for Manchester United demands huge sacrifices. This is a club of hard workers. You are there to work hard, there are no glass jewels or paste trinkets here. At United you are carrying the weight of the club’s history. You become a Red Devil when you have fully understood that. The mentality of this club is to hate defeat. In four years I have lost very few League games. To win three League titles was a real achievement. To win a fourth this season would make us legends.”

On captaining United in League Cup final, 2010

“Being the second Frenchman to lift a trophy for United, after Cantona, is a great pride. I want to thank the manager, the players and the staff. They believe I have the soul of a leader. I was not looking after that, but if I have been given the armband, I get it.”

On fans wearing green and gold, 2010

“They are the original colors of Manchester United and the fans wear them because they love this club. They have their reasons for doing it and we don’t think that they’re crazy. They’d like things to change.”

On playing for United, 2010

“I got a load of DVDs. About the Munich disaster and the Busby Babes, about Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law, about Cantona. The whole story of the club. You meet these people around the club and I wanted to know who they were. What they had done for the club. Out of respect. Because when you shake the hand of Sir Bobby Charlton you can feel the legend. All the young players here need to understand the history of the club. After I watched those DVDs I realised I needed to respect the shirt. I needed to respect the story. Every time I play that is in my head. What a privilege it is to play for Manchester United. When you pull on the shirt you are pulling on history, and I say thanks to God that I play for this club. To be able to come in and train here. To work with legends like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. When I arrived here people asked me what excited me most. I said it was not training with Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney but players like Giggs and Scholes. They are the history of the club. Giggs trains like a player who has never won anything in his career. His hunger. His desire to win, even on the training pitch.”

On Rooney wanting to leave, 2010

“The star at Manchester United is the team, not one player. Everyone at the club understands that mentality. All young lads want to play for this club because they respect the shirt, because that shirt is the biggest story – it’s our history. That’s the message you give to the young lads and when you finish the game, you have to look in the mirror and say you have done your job. There was no problem in the dressing room with Wayne and if he had wanted to talk, we were open because we wanted to help him. But it’s a big mistake to say Manchester United is finished. I like to talk in a positive way, but that is the truth. I would not play any more for this club if I knew we were not strong enough to win the league. That is why we play for Manchester United and we will see at the end of the season. Yes, Manchester City are rivals, but they are every year. I love to play against them, I love to win against Chelsea and I hate to lose to Liverpool at Anfield.”

On calling Arsenal babies, 2010

“I think we confirmed what I’d said before the match. I think Arsenal played really well, you shouldn’t neglect that, but we were better. I really say that without any arrogance. I heard people saying that what I said was below the belt, but that wasn’t my intention. I just wanted to show how much I believe in my team, in their potential and strength. We know Arsenal and we know that if you don’t let them breathe, which is what the coach said before the match, then it becomes hard for them, especially at Old Trafford. United always show up for the big games. Arsenal enjoyed a lot of possession but only had one chance. I think our victory was really deserved, it didn’t boil down to small details. But people will have a go at me again for saying what I think.”

On Rooney wanting to leave, 2011

“Before the Champions League game against the Turkish side, everyone was criticising United, saying it was the end of the empire. I said, ‘You have to pay the musician at the end of the show’, and I still think the same. Yes, it was big trouble, but in the end we stayed united. It’s not only about one player. I always say Manchester without Evra, Rooney or a big player will always be the same team because the star is the team, not just one player. Sometimes in your life you have problems but Wayne is a professional and now you see he just gives back. Maybe it’s a sorry to the fans for what he said. That’s at an end now – it’s over. I always believed in this side. At the beginning of the season I told all my friends, ‘I play this year to win the league again and reach the Champions League final’. When we were in that bad position we still believed we could win the league. How many goals do we score in the last minute? That’s the right spirit. We always believe.”

On why he’s proud to play for United, 2011

“This is the United spirit: you can play everywhere. If you want to win, you have to accept it. You can see Antonio Valencia playing right-back as well. Only because United play like a team. The team is the star, not only one player, that’s why you can put me and Michael Carrick at centre-back; we’re going to win because it’s the team effort and team spirit. That’s why I’m confident. I’ve said that from the beginning – in six years playing here – the Man United spirit… no one team has got that spirit. This is United. This is why I’m so proud to play here.”

On Manchester United’s spirit, 2012

“Manchester United never die. A lot of people forget that, they don’t want to respect the story (of the club). But when you have the story behind this club, you know that when there’s a difficult moment you’ll answer back, because everyone in this team has a big character, a big personality. If we hadn’t shown that we would have lost the game. But we know we’re strong. The manager told us it was a big game and that we had to go out and show what Manchester United is all about – and that’s what we showed. He told us that we’re not going to win every game just because we’re Manchester United. We had to walk out and play with the Manchester United spirit, and that’s what we did in the first half. Even though we lost two games in a row, I didn’t think everything was over.”

On Tevez’s “RIP Fergie” sign, 2012

“I was very surprised by Tevez’s attitude against Sir Alex Ferguson. I’m not sure how the manager feels about it but I’m sure he won’t be impressed. It’s disrespectful. Tevez spent two years at this club and was treated extremely well by the manager so I don’t really understand his reaction or the truth about the situation. The poster was in very bad taste, no one from Manchester United appreciated it. Tevez is an adult, he plays for another club and is responsible for his own actions. It’s a shame because he was always respected at Manchester United and remained in contact with some of the players. But I have no idea what will happen now.”

On winning at Anfield, 2012

“It’s unbelievable. To be fair, I always say one of the best sensations is when we win at Anfield. We’ve been coming here for four years [almost five years], a long time and I’ve not been seeing a dressing room like that with smiles on the faces after the game. I want to win against Liverpool. If I play badly or play well, I just want to win and that is what we did.”

On Manchester, 2012

“It was really different from Paris. For four years before moving to Manchester I was living in Monte Carlo so it was a big change. But now I’m used to it and the people are very nice in Manchester. I’m happy here. I remember when I first joined the club I said ‘the weather is not so sunny here’ and people said I hated Manchester, but no. Now there are lots of new buildings and I think the city has improved a lot. You can see it in the city centre, the Trafford Centre, it’s improved a lot. I’m happy when I go to Manchester. It’s just about the weather that I’m not happy! If it’s hot and sunny, I play in the garden with my kids and have a barbecue. When it’s sunny Manchester can be one of the best cities.”

On Manchester City, 2012

“I don’t know if we could talk about rivalry between both Manchester clubs, because we have always been superior to Manchester City. And even if they won the national title last season, that won’t change anything.”

On rumours he was leaving, 2013

“The problem with me is I don’t read the papers so I don’t know what people are saying about me. I had a French interview and I said: “It’s personal’ meaning ‘I don’t want to talk about it”. Maybe some people [outside] want me to leave the club but that’s not the case. I will answer if somebody wants to talk about my contract because I think it ends after this year but then they have to talk with Manchester United and my agent. Me? I love this club so much. The only thing I can say is it [the French interview] was a big misunderstanding.”

On captaining United, 2014

“It’s a great feeling. I remember when Sir Alex told me I would be captain for the first time before our win in Wolfsburg [December 2009]. He said, ‘Pat, tomorrow you are the captain.’ I said, ‘Okay, I’ll let you know [if that’s okay] tomorrow!’ [Laughs]. I am always so proud whenever I captain the team, it’s a fantastic honour, but there are many captains here.”

On making up for defeat against Olympiacos in the first leg of the round of 16, 2014

“When you win, you win together and when you lose, you lose together. It’s been a difficult season for everyone. We’re not used to losing games. We always win. Everybody wants to fight for this club, everyone loves this club. We know we had a bad game in the first leg. Even a three-year-old Manchester United fan will have been hurting from that performance. But in life you always have a second chance and we get that tomorrow tonight. I’m not God and telling you we will qualify tomorrow but I can promise you we will all fight and respect the shirt and make sure all the fans will be really proud of us after the game.”

On scoring against Bayern Munich, 2014

“It was an emotional day, the day before the game. Everyone had been to the Munich memorial, where the plane had crashed with the Busby Babes. It was amazing. I was talking with a young player like Adnan Januzaj and telling him, ‘These people were like us, they were on a plane going to play a football game.’ And at the end they never see their families again. I always pray before games, I pray every day – to save my family, I even sometimes pray for my enemy. But I asked, ‘Can I give something for the Busby Babes’. I didn’t say a goal, but just to make sure we played for them in that game. That’s why when I scored that goal, you can see I was really emotional, I was angry. I couldn’t believe it. That’s my little secret – and now everyone knows that secret. In the end we went out of the competition and that is why I was really disappointed, but it was a special moment for me.”




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