It’s been more than four years since the the ugly scenes which dominated proceedings at Anfield. Liverpool’s Luis Suarez was given an eight-match ban for allegedly abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, while the pair refused to shake hands when they met again in February 2012.
Now, they are preparing to face each other for quite possibly the final time, as Suarez’s Barcelona take on Evra’s Juventus in tonight’s Champions League final. However, anyone who thought that incident might have been forgotten have sadly received a firm reminder from the French defender, who has been discussing it this week.
The 34-year-old, who joined the Italian champions last summer, claims he’s still waiting on an apology from his Uruguayan adversary. The two players have since shaken hands in other United-Liverpool fixtures but Evra has been quick to point out, in quotes taken by The Telegraph, that he has no reason to forgive the 28-year-old striker.
“It doesn’t matter, it’s no problem for me,” Evra explained. “But when we are going to play the game, I will shake his hand. He will never be my best friend, but this is not a problem.
“The past is the past. I am really proud of my colour and I will shake his hand like I did with Manchester when we play against Liverpool. My game is against Barcelona, it is not against Luis Suarez, but I will make sure he will feel me on the pitch.”
Since the incident, Suarez has complained that Evra’s accusations have left an unfair stain on his career that will be there forever. Unsurprisingly, the former United star has had little in the way of sympathy.
“I didn’t say to the judge that Luis Suarez is a racist person,” Evra said. “I just say in that moment he have some racist comment. I didn’t go there and say now ‘you have to punish him, he is a racist person’. I don’t know that because I don’t know Luis Suarez very well to talk about it.
“But I controlled myself, I behaved myself, because in that moment I remember, it was like a voice inside my head – ‘don’t do nothing stupid, don’t do nothing stupid, don’t punch him or do something stupid because a lot of people are watching this game’. For some kid, you have to show the example.
“If I do something wrong, maybe today I won’t be playing the final of the Champions League – I will get maybe a three-year ban or something like that. Sir Alex Ferguson after the game, and all my team-mates, they saw my face. I was in another galaxy in that moment. A lot of things were happening in my head. It was a really difficult day, but I was really proud of myself.”
We’re clearly never going to know the full story of what happened that day. There are still two very contrasting accounts of the events that took place – although Suarez himself admits that something was said. For Evra to suggest that he’s proud of himself for his handling of the incident certainly feels a little ridiculous. Let’s just hope that their ongoing rivalry doesn’t sour what should be a great European final…
And let’s hope that Luis bags a hat-trick as well!