Happy Evra after a repeat of performance that tamed Messi

The incentives for Manchester United in Rome next Wednesday are growing by the day. That it would have been Sir Matt Busby's 100th birthday on the eve of the final provides more poignancy and United have their own tribute planned: a giant mosaic which fans will be asked to hold up in Stadio Olimpico. "For Sir Matt," it will read.

For Patrice Evra, the memory of his excellent job dealing with Lionel Messi in last year's semi-final – Barcelona did not find the net in either leg – offers further motivation. "Last year was last year and this is totally different," Evra says. "But I was very proud of myself after the semi-final, because I'd done my job very well. I won't forget that but this is a new year."

Evra has a daily reminder of the kind of ability he is up against, even though Messi has not scored on nine occasions against English opposition. "I don't have to prepare any differently because it's Messi, because every day in training I am up against people like [Wayne] Rooney, [Dimitar] Berbatov, [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Carlos] Tevez, so you know what to do against big players. Still, you can stop Messi 10 times, but if he passes you once and scores, people say 'Evra played a poor game'."

That is what the football world was saying of the 28-year-old Frenchman after Tottenham Hotspur's Aaron Lennon danced around him in the Carling Cup final at Wembley in March, though that rankles. "After my four-match ban [for the previous season's Chelsea ruckus] and injury I had one bad game in the Carling Cup final and people said I wasn't the same player as last year," the left back said. "I've played for Manchester United for three years and had one bad game, so I was actually happy with the criticism because it made me believe I'm the best left back in the world."

Evra also spoke for the first time about his fury over the ban imposed upon him by the FA for the Chelsea episode. "If you asked me about it over the next 10 years I would still say I don't accept it because I lost 10 games. I didn't touch anyone but got a four-game ban. It still hurts me when I talk about it now. I remember every day in the gym thinking of coming back against Chelsea [in January]. I was angry before the game, and although I played well, that ban killed me. But I don't win for revenge now, just myself."

That is in the past now, with the Barcelona game delivering Evra back to a country where he began his senior career, with Serie C side Marsala, 11 years back. "When I'm asked what is my best moment, I don't say the Champions League final or things like that, I say it was in Italy. I was 17 and they were great to me. I remember when I got my first tracksuit, looking at it in the mirror, feeling so proud."

Sir Alex Ferguson, meanwhile, has been consulted on the Busby mural. "We wanted to do something to mark Sir Matt's 100th birthday and we were approached by the fans with an idea that would recognise the role he had played in the club's unique place in Europe," said the United chief executive, David Gill. "Alex liked the idea straight away."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us