Manchester City star Benjamin Mendy reveals United legend Patrice Evra is his idol
MANCHESTER CITY fans may want to look away now… because Benjamin Mendy’s idol is a RED!
Mendy has revealed fellow Frenchman and United legend Patrice Evra was his hero growing up.
Evra chalked up five Prem titles and tasted Champions League glory in eight trophy-laden years at Old Trafford.
Now City’s £49.3million man hopes to win Evra-thing in the North West, too.
Ambitious Mendy, who picked up a league winner’s medal in his debut season at City, said: “When I was young I liked Evra in my position at left-back.
“And then it was Dani Alves on the right side. But now I try to do my best to become the No 1 player myself.”
Ironically, World Cup winner Mendy, 24, had been tipped as a possible replacement for Evra, now 37, when he left United in 2014.
And things may have worked out very differently if Brazilian veteran Alves, 35, had not snubbed a move to City last summer.
In the end, Alves joined mega-rich French club Paris Saint-Germain, Mendy quit Monaco for the Etihad — and the rest is history.
Mendy already boasts an impressive collection of silverware.
For several weeks after winning the World Cup, he did not let the medal out of his sight — carrying it around in his pocket.
He told anyone who would listen on Manchester City’s pre-season American tour: “This is part of my skin for the next four years.”
As for the Premier League gong he won in May, that takes pride of place on the mantelpiece at home.
Ahead of City hosting new boys Fulham today, Mendy, 24, said: “I have one shelf at home for my medals — a lot of medals.”
Yet there is one that is significant by its absence and he would love to get his hands on it.
The Champions League groups start this week and Mendy would love to complete an amazing 12 months by wrapping up the hat-trick in May.
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He fancies his chances, too, and no wonder as Pep Guardiola’s men are favourites to lift the trophy with some bookies.
City kick off on Wednesday at home to Lyon, in a match that could see Mendy face his brother Ferland, 23, who is also a left-back.
Mendy was a key player in Monaco’s march to the semi-finals two years ago — as City fans know only too well.
The £49.3million man added: “The biggest thing missing for me is the Champions League and, if Allah is willing, we’ll take this cup.
“I got to the semis with Monaco, but this year I want to go to the final with City. We believe we can win it.”
It has been a bitter-sweet year for Mendy as he approaches the anniversary of a devastating injury.
In late September 2017, in a game against Crystal Palace at the Etihad, he hobbled off in the first half unaware he had suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury.
By the time he returned as a substitute seven months later, his team had already romped to the Premier League title.
Mendy did enough in the final few weeks to persuade Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps to include him in their World Cup squad.
His only taste of action in Russia was a 40-minute appearance off the bench in a dead-rubber group game against Denmark.
But even so, nobody is taking those achievements of the last few months off him.
In fact, it has just given him a greater hunger to go on and win more for club and country.
He said: “I dreamed of all this when I was young, to win the big trophies. But now, it is all true and I want to get more of this. What’s happened this last year is not a dream — it’s real and was not easy.
“We worked a lot with France to win the World Cup. And we worked a lot with City to win the Carabao Cup, Premier League and Community Shield.
“But we want more. City are a big team and want a lot of titles.”
Looking at the average age of the France and City squads, it would be a big surprise if Mendy does not add to his collection.
His two coaches could not be much different in terms of their styles. But both Guardiola and Deschamps are winners.
Mendy added: “They are two different managers with another vision of football.
“But both teams are very good, the quality is there, as you can see.
“Now I am with City and I’m focusing on helping them win. The start has been good and I hope to continue this way.”
While Mendy made only eight appearances for City last season, Guardiola regularly spoke of his importance in the dressing room.
The French ace is always smiling and is a huge character — with his social media antics helping make him a cult figure.
It was Mendy who dubbed City the ‘Shark Team’ as they were devouring everything in their path last season.
But after he caught the eye in their 2-0 win at Arsenal on the opening weekend, Guardiola had some words of advice for him.
He said: “Mendy is just Mendy. Sometimes we want to kill him and sometimes you think, ‘Wow, what a player we have’. He gives us energy.
“Mendy has a lot of things to improve and hopefully we can convince him to forget a little bit about social media and improve a few things.”
Guardiola’s men have launched their title defence with three wins and a draw — their one blip coming in a 1-1 draw at Wolves.
But even as they face up to the challenge of overhauling early pacesetters Liverpool, Mendy has vowed never to change his infectious character.
He told Arab News: “I try my best to lift my team-mates because it’s very important we support each other.
“With the players and manager, we are one big family and it’s perfect to work here. Everyone’s close, everyone wanting the same.”