Patrice Evra reveals pressure over Luis Suarez racism incident

 

Patrice Evra has admitted the pressure he was under prior to his non-handshake with Luis Suarez was the greatest he had ever felt in his life.

After months of ill-feeling following the racism claims Evra made after the Premier League meeting between Liverpool and Manchester United in October, the France full-back was ready to end the feud ahead of the return encounter at Old Trafford.

Yet Suarez snubbed the United captain, earning himself widespread condemnation and forcing the Liverpool hierarchy to intervene.

"That game was the most pressure I've ever felt in my life - and all to do with shaking his hand," said Evra.

"It was very difficult to decide what to do before the game.

"Many people would never try to shake his hand. But I tried and he refused.

"For me, it was like, 'What's going on?' You see the first tackle, a tackle on Rio Ferdinand?

"If it was Suarez then I could have had a red card straight away and I'd have been off the pitch."

It would be fair to stay that the period around those initial racism allegations was hugely traumatic for Evra.

For only a week later came a telephone call that stopped him completely in his tracks, the death of his 42-year-old brother.

"What's happened to me this year, personal things, have been really tough," said Evra.

"I know people will think I'm only saying this because we've lost the title but this is the most difficult season I've ever had for Manchester United.

"Before the game against Manchester City in October my dad called to tell me I'd just lost my brother. Nothing can be more difficult than that to find out before a big game.

"When you add the Suarez case as well, I am very proud of myself.

"I've been stronger mentally than ever before. To keep going and to play every game is just amazing.

"I know that's not the way a Manchester United player should talk when you don't win the league. It sounds like I'm finding an excuse. But it's the truth.

"I don't want to lie to people. This year has been so difficult."

Yet Evra's capacity to deal with all the emotion has filled him with confidence for the future.

It may explain why his performances have not been quite so good this term.

But the fact he has emerged with his spirit still high suggests Evra can recover from the trauma.

"Sometimes bad things can happen to you in your life, but you need to keep a cool head and be strong," he said.

"In your life you have good and bad experiences but the most important thing is how you react, and I think I reacted in a good way.

"That's why I'm proud of myself."

PA

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