Man Utd flop Eric Bailly admits he felt ‘helpless and worthless’ during Old Trafford spell | Football


Eric Bailly has returned to Villarreal six months after leaving Man Utd (Photo: Getty)

Former Manchester United defender Eric Bailly says he felt ‘helpless and worthless’ during his injury-stricken spell at the club.

Bailly’s seven-year career at Old Trafford came to an end last summer as he departed for Besiktas – though he has since had his contract terminated by the Turkish giants.

He’s now back at Villarreal, the club where he made his name and, back in 2016, attracted the interest of then-United manager Jose Mourinho and the centre-back has now revealed how ‘The Special One’ convinced him to join the Red Devils.

‘A Portuguese number [rang my phone]. “It’s Mourinho”, said the voice at the other end. “Do you want to play for me at Manchester United?”,’ the 29-year-old told The Athletic.

‘I felt like I was hallucinating. I thought it was a guy just trying to annoy me, to make a joke. Who believes Mourinho is calling them?

‘I said he needed to prove it was him by calling on video. This is what he did. It was Mourinho and he said he wanted me to go to Manchester. I did. I signed for the biggest club in the world.’

The £30million signing enjoyed a great first season with United, being named man of the match on his debut in the Community Shield victory over Leicester City, before winning the League Cup and Europa League.

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys: Group F - UEFA Champions League

Injuries ruined the defender’s Man Utd career (Photo: Getty)

Sadly, 15 separate injuries plagued the rest of his time at the club, and he would start just 33 Premier League games in his last five years with the club, his final appearance coming in December 2021.

‘You feel helpless because you can’t change anything when you’re injured,’ Bailly said.

‘You don’t want to feel worthless but that’s exactly what you feel. You want to get back training but at the biggest clubs there’s huge competition.’

Despite this, the Ivory Coast international still enjoyed his time at United, in large part because of his teammates, adding: ‘I got on with the boys I played with.

‘I saw a lot of Victor Lindelof. He lived one minute from my house and spoke Spanish. Harry Maguire was tranquil. I’m glad he’s playing well now; he’s a strong character and he had a difficult time with the English media.

‘Cristiano Ronaldo returned, the legend coming back. He was the best player in the world for me. Even when he returned, Cristiano contributed a lot to the club and a player like Cristiano deserves to feel important. It’s a shame he left in the circumstances he did.’

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