Jonny Evans has admitted that he thought his career at the top level was over before Manchester United came calling.
The 35-year-old was a free agent after leaving Leicester City at the end of last season, and began training with United before heading on the club’s pre-season tour of the United States.
Evans’ experience, coupled with injuries to Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire and Lisandro Martinez, eventually saw the veteran defender offered a one-year contract at Old Trafford, reuniting the Northern Irishman with United eight years after he departed for West Bromwich Albion.
He was called upon from the start in United’s recent 1-0 win over Burnley, and assisted Bruno Fernandes for the only goal of the game after playing an exquisite long ball over the top with his weaker left foot.
But Evans has now admitted that he thought his days of playing at the top level were over, given he struggled with injuries during his final season at Leicester.
“No, definitely not,” Evans said, asked about whether he thought a top-flight return was possible. “It’s not a case of winding down. I think sort of people’s careers trajectories kind of end up that way and it’s very difficult for a club when you’re 35 years old to sort of take a chance on you.
“I had a lot of injury problems last year as well, so for the club to do that and sort of see the value in me I’m very grateful to be given the opportunity.”
“For a 35-year-old, I suppose to come back in – they wanted me to come back in and provide cover – not many people get to do that. I know it’s going be a big challenge but, you know, hopefully, it’s one that I can sort of take on.
“I feel like it’s one that was perfect for me at this stage of my career.”
Evans’ 17-year career at the highest level has earned him three Premier League titles with United, while he was also part of the Red Devils side that lifted the Champions League in 2008. He has been capped 104 times by Northern Ireland, making him the fourth highest appearance maker in the country’s history.
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