Juan Sebastian Veron has admitted he never should have left Manchester United in 2003.
The Argentinian midfielder had a mixed time at Old Trafford and his United career lasted just two years and 82 games, scoring 11 goals.
The 41-year-old arrived from Lazio for £28million in 2001 as a 26-year-old and signed a five-year contract, and enjoyed a Premier League title-winning seasons.
But the former Sampdoria and Parma man, who excelled in the Champions League, found it difficult to adapt to English football and at the end of the 2001-02 season he was famously the subject of a vehement defence from Sir Alex Ferguson.
With United left empty handed at the end of that season Ferguson aimed his frustrations at the press and critics of Veron.
“He [Veron] is a f****** great player. And you’re all f****** idiots,” said Ferguson
Veron eventually left for Chelsea for £15million in the summer of 2003, but looking back he says it was a mistake.
“I knew United was a great club, my dad had told me about Best, Law and Charlton from when he played against them in the ’68 Intercontinental Cup final,” Veron told the Manchester Evening News.
“I saw the Estudiantes crest (in the Old Trafford museum) with my dad’s face as a cartoon. That was emotional. I felt like I was walking in the footsteps of my father.
“I feel I started well in the league games” he said. “The pre-season preparation was very different to Italy, where we’d do all the running pre-season. In England, there was running every day.
“I liked the atmosphere in training and the lads were great, people like Ryan Giggs was kind to me. But I found the football hard to adjust to and there were so many games throughout the year.
“Games were intense for 90 minutes. In Italy, it was more tactical and about closing down the games. In England, the games were more open, the ball came back and forward. It was more physical too.”
Veron accepts his most complete performance were in the Champions League.
“I don’t know how to explain that,” he added.
“If I had one frustration it was that I had highs and lows every season. I was never at a high level throughout the whole season. But I should have stayed at United and not left.”