By 90Min
September 19, 2019

Juan Sebastián Verón has a mixed legacy in England.

One of his generation's finest midfielders, Verón enjoyed a career that spanned three decades in South America and Europe. He counts teammates such as Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona, winning trophies at (nearly) every club he represented.

In his personal cabinet, he can count two Scudetti, three Coppe Italia, the Premier League, the UEFA Cup and the Copa Libertadores. And yet, it feels like the man who grew up dreaming of playing for Sheffield United has unfinished business in England.

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Despite flashes of creative brilliance, Verón never quite showed his best during his three seasons in England with Manchester United and Chelsea.

Still, the 44-year-old - capped 73 times by Argentina - enjoyed his time in the Premier League. And particularly at United, where he played under Sir Alex Ferguson and shared a dressing room with some of the finest players in the league's history.


Along with his regrets over leaving Old Trafford too soon, La Brujita caught up with 90min for an exclusive chat about everything from his conversations with Ole Gunnar Solskjær, to the magic of Paul Scholes and United's decline...

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Diego Forlán recently revealed private details of that bust-up between Sir Alex Ferguson and David Beckham, with the flying boot. How was the Manchester United dressing room with so many big names and a coach as charismatic as him? 


Ferguson had such great influence, he was so strong in the group, that he hardly had any kind of problem. 

Beyond this incident, which originated because they [Ferguson and Beckham] were big personalities, and some other arguments, hardly anything ever leaked from the changing rooms or training. Everyone knew their place and, above all, the place of the manager. 

His job was to maintain harmony and solve problems within the group, to motivate these types of personalities.

Any particular memories of Ferguson? 

On the bus, he played cards. On some journeys, he sat at our table and talked or shared. That is important because everyone thinks of him as being 'above'. The reality is that sometimes he stood on a par with the players, without establishing distances, but obviously maintaining respect.

Is that a management style that has become lost today? 

Look, as to how to handle groups, what happens is that I believe that today the coaching teams are becoming bigger with more people. 

Before, the manager was very close [to his team]. He was a person who was with you and shared more time. Today, obviously having so many people around, it is the others who do that. At some point, changes may come around. The reality is that much more information is also given than it was before, especially for the methodological change.

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Who is the best player you played with in the Premier League? 

I could give you the whole team from Manchester United and something similar from Chelsea. It is very complicated...For me the best player, as a midfielder, was [Paul] Scholes. El Colorado (the Red One) was a complete player, a guy who probably scored more than 200 goals.

He played in midfield and as a forward with the same ease. [He was a] very versatile, a guy with character. In terms of the most complete, for me, he was the best. 

Then I could tell you about Lampard, Makelele, Terry, Ferdinand, Giggs, Beckham, Van Nistelrooy. Roy Keane...a lot.

Where did you get the most enjoyment - at Chelsea or United?


At Chelsea, the reality is that I had very little time. I had a major back injury and I was out for practically six months. I was already thinking more about going back to Italy than staying there in England.

With United, the truth is that there are few things, very few, that I regret. But one is to have left Manchester. They never pushed me or told me 'you have to go' but they gave me the chance, the possibility. I had talks with my former colleagues at that time telling me that I had to stay. And at one moment I decided to leave because I wanted to play, because I didn't know...I should have stayed.

The truth was that we had a great time with my family. I moved a lot of times and it cost me the most. I had a great time. Some may talk about the weather of the city, but I really enjoyed myself.

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When you were a player, did you ever imagine that Manchester City would become better than United? 


Never. That begins to change with the arrival of entrepreneurs...with the arrival of Roman Abramovich. Just when I went to Chelsea, it was the first year he was there. No one imagined that City could become what it is today.

Why do you think United have gone into such a decline recently? 

When you one person is in charge for 25 years, the adaptation takes time. Also, the club went private.

And then a whole generation that marked an era of that United team, with clear rules, with clear conditions have gone. Before you had a group that each knew their role, off the field, that was an incredible generation of players, a well-formed group. That is very, very difficult to build.

The club didn't manage to do a smooth transition. Manchester United is suffering and trying to rebuild.

How do you see Ole Gunnar Solskjær as a coach?

He is there to build, to rebuild as someone who was at the club, who was part of that group. He was also part of Ferguson's coaching staff, with Mike Phelan and his former teammates. 

They will have to work hard to get back to how they were. Ole seems to me a coach, a manager who knows the club. He a good person, a very good person and hopefully it goes well. It will not be simple, it will not be easy.


Do you have any contact with him? 

I have contact. Not frequent, not daily, but yes.

How are those conversations? 

My English is not great. I manage to communicate despite the language barrier...I always try to bring Argentina into our relationship. We like to touch, hug. It is a normal relationship, talking about football, Argentine football.

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Do you give him any advice? 

No. Maybe some profile of an Argentine player. Basically just that.


After his spells at United and Chelsea, the 44-year-old from La Plata returned to Italy, where he won the Scudetto with Inter. In 2006, Verón returned to Argentina, completing his career circle by signing for Estudiantes, where he came through as an academy player. In 2009, he won the Copa Libertadores and was named the competition's most valuable player.

You can read part two of Juan Sebastián Verón's exclusive interview with 90min here - where he discusses his time at Inter, Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona.

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