Patrice Evra showed some inspirational leadership at half-time of France's game against Belarus, according to the French press and his international team-mates.
With France trailing 1-0 at half-time, Evra, although he was benched for the game, took the opportunity to give a speech to his teammates which went on to inspire them to a 4-2 victory and end a run of poor form for Les Bleues. According to Franck Ribery: "Evra had some very important words. Basically, he told us to let ourselves loose. He had respect for Belarus, but we were France."
According to Blaise Matuidi: "Evra played his part. He explained he had to speak up, he was talking particularly to the young players." "He looked to touch our sense of pride", added Arsenal's Olivier Giroud.
Didier Deschamps later revealed, when asked about the incident, that Evra had suffered from a family bereavement, perhaps explaining his omission, but said he was unaware whether his teammates knew of the fact.
Now, any rational human being will love Patrice Evra, and it's good for him and very lucky for us that he appears to have started the season in his best form for some time. But even if it doesn't last, this shows what a huge influence he can be in the dressing room. We like Evra because he's a character - not a 'character', like some apology in advance for the invitation of an attention-seeking bore to a pub, but the sort of personality you like to have in your team. Usually it's just because he's cool and gets United, but it has its practical uses too.