Patrice Evra recalls inspirational journey from harrowing childhood to Man Utd superstar

For Patrice Evra the journey is even more inspirational than the trophies.

Manchester United ’s French superstar lifted five Premier League titles under Sir Alex Ferguson, including the Scot’s last in 2013.

He also clinched three League Cups and Champions League and played 81 times for France.

His childhood years before football, however, were harrowing.

As a youngster he witnessed his brother Albert – who later died from drugs – slumped in the toilet with a needle in his arm.

As a teenager, he begged for food, waiting at the back door of McDonalds in Les Ulis, in the southwestern suburbs of Paris, for scraps, after his parents split up.

And in his late teens he faced relentless racism in Italy.

It says much for his resilience that Evra, now 41, made himself a superstar.

“I started begging when my dad left home when I was ten years old,” he said. “It was tough for my mum. She was the only one working. I had a big family.

“When you grow up in the streets, begging is normal. If you wanted a sandwich or a kebab at the time, we’d be begging.

“Sometimes people were really kind but some weren’t. I even ended up eating by the rubbish, cold Big Macs and cold cheeseburgers.

“I was ten, 11. It lasted until I was 17 when I left to go to Italy.”

Evra was a favourite of the United fans
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AFP via Getty Images)

The heartbreaking accounts are featured in Evra’s compelling autobiography, I Love This Game.

Reflecting on his brother’s death, he wrote: “When I was a small child, I’d woken up needing to go to the toilet in the apartment in Les Ulis.

“The door was slightly ajar and the light was on. I pushed it open to find my brother Albert sitting on the toilet, staring into space.

“A needle was hanging from his arm. I didn’t understand what was happening, but I knew it was something very bad. I closed the door and went back to bed.

Evra enjoyed huge success under Ferguson
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Getty Images)

“Albert eventually died from the drug addiction which had already taken over his life when I found him that night. Crack cocaine was the cause of his death.”

Evra, embroiled in a well-documented racism row with Luis Suarez as a Manchester United superstar, also revealed the extent of the racism he suffered as a young teenager.

“At the age of 17, when I was playing in Italy, I was the only black player in the whole league,” he said. “People would throw bananas at me and make monkey noises every time I touched the ball.

“One player, before we started a game, told me: “Listen, my little – and used the N word – today there’s nothing for you. Everyone says you’re a phenomenon, but I’m going to break your legs.

“And after 20 minutes of the game. I was glad I had my shin pad, He did a bad tackle on me and left me with a massive scar. I had to go to the hospital to have stitches. But this is the journey. It made me even more determined to succeed.”

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