CNN  — 

Former Manchester United and France star Patrice Evra says he wants to use his platform to tackle violence against children after detailing the sexual abuse he says he received as a teenager.

In his autobiography ‘I Love This Game,’ Evra writes about abuse that he says took place when he stayed at a teacher’s house to cut down on the school commute.

Evra, who was 13 at the time, says the teacher would enter his room every night that he stayed and that he remembers tying shoelaces around his pajamas to try and stop the assaults.

Despite telling his mom that he no longer wanted to stay in that house, Evra says he did not tell his family of the abuse until weeks before his book was published in 2021.

“I don’t want people to suffer the same way I suffered,” Evra told CNN Senior Sport Analyst Darren Lewis.

“When those things happen, you feel shame about yourself, you feel guilty, you don’t know if people are going to trust you.”

Evra never filed a police report regarding the abuse and says he denied it happened when approached by police when he was 24 years old.

It wasn’t until opening up to his fiancé Margaux Alexandra that he decided to share his experiences.

“So that’s why I don’t want people to say ‘Wow, Patrice, you’re so brave. You’re so courageous to talk openly about that,’” he said.

“It’s not about that. The victim – it’s not because they are brave. It’s because it’s the right moment where you feel safe and trust.

“I’ve been so lucky. I met the woman of my life, Margaux, and she helped me to get rid of all that toxic masculinity and to open myself.”

Now that the former defender has retired from his glittering professional football career – he won five Premier League titles and the 2007/08 Champions League at Manchester United and represented France 81 times – he wants to raise awareness of child abuse and urge governments to help support those groups trying to help survivors.

Patrice Evra was a vital member of a successful Manchester United team.

Speaking out

He has since partnered with ‘End Violence,’ an organization that seeks to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against children.

By sharing his own experience, Evra hopes that others will feel more comfortable speaking about uncomfortable topics.

“I won’t push anyone to talk about it,” he added. “I would say you’re going to get the support because it’s really easy to open up, but what’s next? The support.

“That’s why this will be my cause after playing football, I’ve got priority: children, gender equality, racism and mental health. All those things are really important for me.”

Since retiring, Evra has used his social media presence to spread his ethos of joy and positivity, but he has never shied away from tackling the big issues.

In his autobiography, he details the racist abuse he received as a player, notably as a youngster in Italy where he played for Marsala and Monza between 1998 and 2000.

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10:  Patrice Evra of France reacts during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Patrice Evra speaks out on racist abuse and how to combat it
04:00 - Source: CNN

“People were throwing bananas at me. People were doing the monkey noise every time I got the ball,” he said.

In addition to abuse from fans, he also recalls an incident where he says a player called him a racial expletive before a strong tackle which left him in the hospital.

He was also involved in a well-known incident in 2011 when playing for Manchester United.

Then-Liverpool striker Luis Suárez was given an eight-game ban for racially abusing the Frenchman during a match and then refused to shake his hand in the next fixture.

Suárez later apologized for the handshake snub.