Manchester United's Patrice Evra has described how Sir Alex Ferguson was forced to visit him at home last summer and use all his powers of persuasion to make him reconsider a decision to leave Manchester United for Real Madrid or Internazionale.
Evra was considering leaving Old Trafford as recently as January, with no imminent prospect of a new contract, and the left-back admitted ahead of his role in Saturday's Champions League final against Barcelona that the prospect of being nearer his family meant his mind was set on a move before the 2010-11 season began.
"I had thought about leaving Manchester United last summer for family reasons and even concluded that I wanted to," Evra said. "But something changed my mind quite late on. There were other clubs interested like Inter and Real Madrid. But the manager visited me at my house in Manchester to persuade me. I know my heart has really made the right decision. When Sir Alex Ferguson talks, it's a good idea to listen."
Evra's agent Federico Pastorelli said in January Evra was still uncertain about his future, though he then agreed a four-year deal in February.
When Wayne Rooney decided he wanted to leave in October, Evra was the player most critical, but said the striker apologised. "He came, he spoke, he said what he had to say, between us. It stays between us, it's true that he apologised for it," Evra said. "But it brought us together."
Ferguson was last night voted by his contemporaries as the League Managers' Association manager of the year. Remarkably, it is only the third time he has won the award since it was introduced in 1994.
Speaking at the LMA awards dinner in London via video link from Old Trafford, where he watched United's stars of the future win the FA Youth Cup, Ferguson said: "[The award is] a wonderful honour – it has been a fantastic season for us in the most difficult league in the world."
In the game at Old Trafford, Ravel Morrison and Will Keane each scored twice to defeat Sheffield United 4-1 on the night and 6-3 on aggregate as United became the first club to win the FA Youth Cup on 10 occasions.
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has meanwhile revealed he will wait for today's forecast from the Grimsvotn volcano before deciding when his side will travel to London for the Champions League final against United on Saturday.
Barcelona were forced to travel by bus to Milan to face Internazionale in the semi-final of last year's competition after flights were cancelled as a result of an ash cloud which covered much of western Europe.
And Guardiola is hoping for the best this time around as another erupting Icelandic volcano threatens to cause flight disruption over the British Isles.
"I hope the volcano sleeps a little bit longer," he said.
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