Former defender Patrice Evra has revealed that legendary former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson had almost finalised an audacious bid to bring Cristiano Ronaldo back to the club in 2013 — and also had plans of roping in Gareth Bale.
Frenchman Evra made the revelation during his UTD Podcast episode, which is available now on Deezer and via other podcast providers.
“You know, you talk about the hardest moments (in my United career), I would say maybe this is the one,” Evra was quoted as saying by Manchester United’s official website, manutd.com, when asked about Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.
“Two weeks before that, I remember there was a lot of media saying Ferguson will maybe retire next year, and he said, ‘Patrice, I will never retire. I will be here another 10 years’.
“He then said: ‘My target is I’m 99 per cent sure we will have Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. I just need these two players to win the Champions League again. Ninety-nine per cent.’
“And to be fair, when I speak with Cristiano, I ask him and he said yes to the boss, and was coming to join United. He told me this.”
Ronaldo now plays for Italian giants Juventus while Welsh forward Bale plies his trade for Spanish heavyweights Real Madrid.
“After two weeks, we were in the dressing room waiting,” Evra continued. “When we arrived at Carrington, I see all those cameras and I was like: ‘Wow, someone has done something wrong. Maybe a player is the story again! Someone has done something wrong, we are in trouble.’
“But we arrived and people said, ‘Guys, you have to stay in the dressing room because the boss wants to have a chat’. And when the boss came into the dressing room to talk to everyone, it’s never good news.
“He came, and he said, ‘I’m really sorry. Some people have said that I’m going to retire even before I say it myself. That’s why you saw all those cameras. But I will retire because my wife needs me’. He apologised to (Robin) van Persie, he apologised to Shinji (Kagawa), because he just brought them. He apologised to them especially.”
Evra said the news left him devastated but it did not affect his commitment to the club.
“I just couldn’t believe it. I thought it was like a prank again. I remember driving home — you know when you’re driving but you’re not there? I was just thinking: ‘This is real? He’s leaving?’
“My wife said, ‘What’s happened?’ I said: ‘Ferguson has retired.’ She said: ‘Oh, best news! Now I know next year we’re leaving!’ I said ‘I’m not playing for Ferguson. I’m playing for the club. I’m playing for the badge, for the fans, and playing for the boss and my teammates, so this won’t be the reason why I will leave Manchester United.’
“But it was a tough day, because my philosophy with Ferguson… I’ve never been scared of Alex Ferguson, but I’ve always been scared to disappoint him. To play in a bad game and to let him down.”