Djemba-Djemba: Sir Alex changed my life

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Djemba-Djemba: Sir Alex changed my life

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Former Manchester United midfielder Eric Djemba-Djemba shares his appreciation for his former manager Sir Alex Ferguson on the latest episode of the UTD Podcast.

The 41-year-old Cameroonian played for the Reds 39 times between 2003 and 2005, scoring two goals.

A combative midfielder, he was signed by Sir Alex from French side Nantes and departed the club for Aston Villa in 2005, before enjoying stints at a host of clubs, including Hapoel Tel Aviv, St Mirren and Partizan Belgrade.

As you will hear when you listen to Djemba-Djemba’s episode of the UTD Podcast – available now in the United App – he explains his relationship with Sir Alex, and thanks his former boss for believing in him and providing him with support during his time at the club.

“Sir Alex is one of the best coaches in the world and I will never, never forget him because he changed my life. He changed my life. Ferguson changed my life because he [wanted] everybody to know about me when I signed for Manchester United,” he began.

“I enjoyed working with him. I was impressed in the beginning. I start to listen and understand what he says to me because I was speaking sometimes with [Darren] Fletcher. But it was nice because Fergie spoke to me. Sometimes he would call me into the dressing room and ask me if everything is OK. Are you OK? Do you need something? Your family, are they OK? Do you want to see your family?

“I have his picture in my house back in Cameroon. I remember that game, I scored against Leeds. It was a cup game, something like that. When I scored, he was up there, and he was laughing. He was laughing and he was eating his chewing gum, you know, at the same time. And the picture, I have that picture back in my house back in Cameroon.”

Djemba-Djemba also revealed the way he was welcomed into the United dressing room, and how Rio Ferdinand in particular was instrumental in helping the Cameroonian international feel at home in Manchester.

“Rio Ferdinand says to me ‘Eric after training you know we need to go and interact. You can come and eat African food. I will bring the team in the big car.’ It was a big car. I’ve never seen that in my life, you know. I went with him, and I don’t remember the area that we were in. I don’t remember where it is but [there was a lot of] Caribbean food.

“It was nice. It was nice of him, and you can see in the big team why the big players are [respected]. [Rio Ferdinand was] a big person, and a good person.

“Roy Keane was [never] laughing because he is a tough guy. He is a top man; he is a top guy, but he was [never] laughing. He would just look [at you]. [With] him, he wants to see on the pitch what you can do, that’s it. I was a little bit scared because he was the captain, and I was 21-years-old. He was the captain and normally I came to play number six but I [knew] I need to wait my time to play. This is normal, but I was a little bit scared because he was hard. On the pitch, he was attacking every ball.

“Roy Keane is Roy Keane, [I can only] explain it like that. He was a nice man. He can give you advice. If you play not good, he can say to you ‘you need to know what you are doing’ and you know he was shouting at everybody. This is normal. But when the training is finished, when the game is finished, he can speak with you. He can give you advice. He was a top guy. He was impressive in the beginning when I saw him for the first time.”

On the latest episode of the UTD Podcast, the former Reds midfielder recalls his league debut, which came in the same game as Cristiano Ronaldo. Both players came on as substitutes against Bolton Wanderers in August 2003.

“In this game Fergie said to me, ‘Eric go and warm up, Cristiano go and warm up.’ And when we are warming up, I say to Cristiano ‘imagine we can play together today. It is our debut; it will be fantastic.’

“He said to me ‘no Eric I am coming on before you’ and I said to him ‘no I am coming on before you.’

“After that Fergie say to Mike Phelan ‘call the two lads’ and we came, and we came together. It was perfect against Bolton. I remember, it was so nice.”

Listen to the Eric Djemba-Djemba podcast now in the United App.

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