• Champions League

Heinze apologises for Ferguson bust-up

ESPNsoccernet staff
February 22, 2011
Gabriel Heinze wanted to swap Manchester United for Liverpool © Getty Images

Marseille defender Gabriel Heinze has revealed his regret at the sour way his relationship with former club Manchester United and particularly Sir Alex Ferguson came to an end.

Heinze, 32, left Old Trafford in acrimonious circumstances in 2007, demanding he be allowed to join Liverpool having become frustrated at being displaced by Patrice Evra as United's first-choice left-back. But a furious Ferguson refused to do business with the Merseysiders, instead shipping Heinze off to Spanish giants Real Madrid.

After an inconsistent spell in La Liga, Heinze has now established himself as an integral part of Marseille's back-line, helping Didier Deschamps' side win the Ligue 1 title last season. And ahead of his reunion with Ferguson and many ex-team-mates on Wednesday, when Marseille host United in the Champions League last-16 at Stade Velodrome, Heinze has expressed his desire to bury the hatchet with his former boss, whom the Argentinean describes as "a major influence" on his career.

"I don't have many regrets from my career as a footballer, but that episode with Ferguson [has] to be one of them," Heinze told ESPNsoccernet. "I'm impulsive and strong-willed and this has got me into trouble at times, which was the case at the time when I left United.

"On reflection, it is easy to see that Ferguson was a major influence on my career, in a positive way. I thought my mind was set to be a winner before moving to United, but I had only completed part of the journey. Sir Alex makes every player he comes into contact with so much more driven and committed. He demands that his players dig as deep for the cause and I'm sorry that we fell out in the final days because I still have so much respect for him.

"I cannot wait for the chance to go back onto the pitch at Old Trafford because this is the most special club of all, and I include Real Madrid in this list. United is a club built on success. It has heritage, legends and trophies, but for me Old Trafford is also a very human and warm place."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.