Louis Saha: Why I ‘needed to leave’ Manchester United after Champions League win

The French striker, who joined United from Fulham in 2004, had also missed out on the 2006 World Cup final after picking up two yellow cards in just nine minutes of action in the quarter- and semi-final victories.

However, as he reveals in FourFourTwo’s December 2019 issue, out on Tuesday November 19, sitting out the Champions League final through injury was even more of a disappointment.

“It was the worst,” Saha says. “I’d worked really hard to come back from injury, and I’d also learned from my mistake at the World Cup.

“It took me four or five years to realise how painful it was, when I wrote my book, because when I finally tried to explain how it felt, I realised how much damage it did to my confidence. It was after missing that final that I talked to the manager and said, ‘I need to leave’.”

Saha had played five times in the 2007/08 Champions League group stages, but - after fighting to prove his fitness ahead of the meeting with Chelsea in Moscow - was unable to earn a place on the bench.

“It became very religious for me when I missed the Champions League final as well [as the World Cup final]. I thought, ‘Why has God given me these platforms to perform, but then taken it away from me?’ It was the first time I ever cried about football. I couldn’t bear it – I was in pain for two or three weeks”

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Saha doesn’t blame Sir Alex Ferguson for his struggles, and continues to hold the manager in high regard, but explains how - after missing the 2008 final - he felt compelled to leave.

“It was the right move at the right moment for me,” he says of the switch to Everton.

“I loved Manchester United: I had a lot of injuries but the manager was always there for me. He taught me to be loyal and have respect. Those things remain within me today.”

Read the full interview with Louis Saha in the December 2019 issue of FourFourTwo. In a managers special, Rafa Benitez gives us the lowdown on Liverpool, Mike Ashley and Real Madrid, and former Ostersund miracle-worker Graham Potter outlines his ambitions with Brighton. We also catch up with former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson, who shares his 10-point plan to ensure success in the dugout, and hear how ex-Rangers and Leeds defender David Robertson ended up in a war zone leading Real Kashmir. Elsewhere, we remember the darkest hours that helped Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Brian Clough, Carlo Ancelotti and more forge incredible careers, find out why Diego Simeone became one of the decade's most decorated managers, and hail the maddest gaffers of all time.

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