Evra on racism, Man Utd, Instagram and more

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August 13, 2021
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    Images from Patrice Evra's Instagram accountPatrice Evra – footballer, coach, influencer, philosopher

    Patrice Evra won the Premier League five times, Serie A twice, the Champions League once, and played for France 81 times.

    But more recently he has become a one-man Instagram production house and the star of his own incredible content.

    In a wide-ranging interview with Nick Robinson on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the former Manchester United defender spoke about everything from racism and religion to the power of positive posting, and what he means when he says: "I love this game!"

    • From Senegal to Paris, Patrice Evra on football – and life

    Here are some of the things we learned.

    Growing up with 23 siblings was fun

    Evra has always been part of a squad – he's one of 24 siblings.

    He was born in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, but moved with his family to France at the age of three.

    Robinson asks whether he had to fight for food at meal times.

    "Sometimes, with my little hands, I was starving," Evra replies, laughing.

    "Or you'd go to wash your hands, come back and the plate was empty. I had so much fun, though."

    Growing up in a tough district made him who he is

    Evra grew up in Les Ulis, in the suburbs of Paris and life outside the family home was not easy.

    "It was more about surviving," he says. "I have many friends who I saw being killed.

    "There were a lot of drugs and stuff like that."

    The 40-year-old is not the only famous footballer out of Les Ulis – with Arsenal great Thierry Henry and Manchester United forward Anthony Martial also from the area.

    "The football saved most of us," Evra says.

    "We are the only little street in the world who have won every trophy possible."

    He wants to speak to racists

    Evra talks about experiencing racism, including while playing for Marsala in Sicily as a youngster.

    He is keen to put the focus on education.

    "I don't like to judge people – it's not, for me, like, 'because you're racist, I can't talk to you'," Evra says.

    "I would like to understand why people are the way they are. It's a really sensitive subject, but I want to help racist people."

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    His son cried because Manchester United 'took his dad'

    Evra tells the programme he would have given his life for Manchester United during his eight years at the club – from 2006-2014.

    He says that was the culture at the time, and tells an illuminating story.

    "My first son Lenny, he was only three years old," says Evra. "One day I came back and he was crying. I said: 'Why are you crying?' He said: 'Because Manchester United took away my dad.'

    "It was true. When you want to succeed sometimes, you even have to sacrifice the time you should normally have with your family."

    Life is the game

    In case you didn't know, Evra's catchphrase is "I love this game" – he says it in all of his Instagram posts, and has it on T-shirts and hoodies.

    But, apparently, he's not just talking about football.

    "It's about life," Evra tells Robinson. "Every day I wake up, I feel fortunate."

    View more on instagram

    And he says he has always had that philosophy – even before he was rich and famous.

    "I was loving this game even when I was begging for money in front of shops," he says.

    He is trying to bring joy through Instagram

    Evra is a prolific poster of viral videos, and has more than eight million followers on Instagram.

    He says his aim is to spread happiness – like with this message of support to the England team before the Euro 2020 final:

    View more on instagram

    "It's a great platform when you can motivate people," he says.

    "Winning the Champions League and Premier League doesn't make me happy the same way as when I saw a comment that said: 'Patrice, I just lost my dad. Watching one of your videos made me smile.'

    "This is really powerful."

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