Why Emmanuel Petit rejected Manchester United in 2001 | inside World Soccer


Why Emmanuel Petit rejected Manchester United in 2001

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Why Emmanuel Petit rejected Manchester United in 2001
Photo: Getty Images

Former France and Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Petit has admitted that he made a mistake joining Chelsea instead of Manchester United back in 2001.

The French World Cup winner is an Arsenal legend, part of the first wave of Arsène Wenger's signings in 1997 that transformed the Gunners into Premier League champions.

After three successful seasons at Highbury, where he became an integral member of Wenger's team in the centre of midfield alongside Patrick Vieira, Petit left for Barcelona in 2000.

Just one year later, Petit had his eye on a return to the Premier League after a difficult season at the Camp Nou.

And he would have likely packed his bags and headed to Old Trafford - were it not for his then-wife, Agathe de La Fontaine.

Speaking in an interview with FourFourTwo, the 53-year-old expressed regret about his decision.

I had many clubs interested in taking me back to England [in 2001]. Arsenal approached me but so did Manchester United.

I spoke to Arsène. He really wanted me back, but I was honest with him: I said, "I appreciate it and it's very tempting, but I didn't feel that you wanted me to stay when I signed for Barcelona a year ago." It's like divorcing somebody: when you don't feel desired by them, what's the point of going back?

I should have gone to Manchester United, because Sir Alex Ferguson called me twice. We had a very good conversation and it was tempting, but once again I listened to my wife.

She wanted to go back to London - she didn't want to live in Manchester - so I made the same mistake twice in one year.

Petit eventually opted for Chelsea, where he spent three seasons before eventually retiring.

In that period, Arsenal won two Premier League titles - including the 03/04 triumph where they did not lose a single match - and two FA Cups, whilst Ferguson lifted the one Premier League title and one FA Cup.

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