Manchester United is undoubtedly one of the first names that pops into you mind when you think of the biggest football teams in the world. Despite their current struggles, Manchester United was THE club to beat during Sir Alex Ferguson’s heyday in the 90s and the first part of the 2000s – destroying everything in their path on the way to an unprecedented 38 trophies.
One can’t broach the topic of Manchester United’s success without noting the invaluable contributions of legendary manager Sir Matt Busby, who, besides leading Manchester United to their first European Cup, built teams around youth and raw talent – which became a vital part of Manchester United's DNA.
Other factors that have contributed to Manchester United’s success is, of course, their fans; with the Old Trafford club being one of the most supported clubs in the world with a global legion of passionate fans.
However, by far the biggest factor for their success in the decades gone by – almost as important as the person in charge of things – has got to be the generations of legendary players who have graced Manchester United over time. The Busby Babes, Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, The Class of ’92, Peter Schmeichel, Roy Keane, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Cristiano Ronaldo are just some of the players who are Old Trafford greats.
And while a lot of these players moved on from Old Trafford with wonderful memories, there are a select few whose exit from the club was less than rosy, which the players in question have come to regret. Who are these individuals? You’re about to find out on this list of 5 players who regret leaving Manchester United.
#5 Gabriel Heinze
Before Patrice Evra made the left-back position his own at Manchester United, the spot was occupied by Gabriel Heinze who was signed from PSG for a sum of £6.9 million. The Argentine immediately hit the ground running and announced himself in spectacular fashion with a goal on his debut against Bolton Wanderers.
Further impressive performances followed, with Heinze fast establishing himself as a fan favourite, with his very own chant which went ‘Ar-gen-tina’. Heinz’s spectacular performances culminated in him winning the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year.
However, an injury against Villareal in the Champions League during the start of the campaign ruled Heinze out for the entire season, which resulted in the signing of Patrice Evra. With his place under extreme threat, Heinze – who found himself playing as a centre-back due to an injury crisis – quickly became disillusioned with life at Old Trafford.
Despite lifting the Premier League, the Argentine demanded a transfer to Liverpool towards the end of the season, completely fraying his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson.
A potential transfer to United’s arch-rivals was enough for the Old Trafford faithful to completely turn on Heinze, with chants of ‘Ar-gen-tina’ replaced with the taunt ‘You Scouse b*****d’. Manchester United immediately rejected Liverpool’s bid, with the defender finally moving to Real Madrid – becoming the third Manchester United player to do so after David Beckham and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Ferguson was incensed by the transfer, accusing Madrid of signing Heinze in a bid to lure Cristiano Ronaldo, who shared a close relationship with the Argentine.
Years later, Heinze spoke of his regret at the manner of his departure, saying, "I spent three years in Manchester and had some great moments and I regret it [leaving the club] a lot. There are a lot of things I regret from the last months but I am a strong personality, Sir Alex is a strong personality. I took the decision and, looking back, I regret it because it meant leaving a great club and their supporters”. Ferguson, on his part, made it clear there were no hard feelings, saying "I thought he had a bad agent who engineered the situation and tried to trick [the chief executive] David Gill. I have no issues with Gabby. He was a fantastic player for us, a warrior. He just took bad advice”.
#4 Juan Sebastián Verón
Juan Sebastian Verón is considered an expensive flop as well as one of the worst ever Premier League signings, but despite performing miserably, the player admitted that he regretted ending his Manchester United spell so early. Signed for an enormous £28.1 million – then an English transfer record – from Lazio, Verón had a phenomenal start to his Old Trafford career, scoring three times in four appearances which earned him the Premier-League-Player-of-the-Month award.
However, the demands of the Premier League soon caught up with the Argentine, whose performances took a severe beating. Things didn’t improve for Verón in his second season in the Premier League, however his performances in Europe were phenomenal, with his four goals proving to be crucial in the group stages of the Champions League.
It soon became clear that Verón excelled in the slower paced European games, with his suitability to English football soon coming into question from the press as well as many pundits. Sir Alex, on his part, launched an extraordinary defence of his player against the press, and infamously raged “Verón is a f*****g great player. And you’re all f*****g idiots”. However, the Argentine failed to kick on, and after just two seasons at Old Trafford, was shipped to Chelsea for less than half his signing fee, where he didn’t do any better.
Verón, reflected on his regret at cutting his Old Trafford spell short, saying “I actually found it tougher to live in London than Manchester because I’m from La Plata, which is quite a small city. I wish I could have stayed at United longer, as I believe I could have done things differently. If I'd stayed in Manchester, I think I would have had more continuity on the pitch”.