Football: Evergreen Evra to keep the ball rolling

France's Patrice Evra arrives before a training session on March 22, 2016.
France's Patrice Evra arrives before a training session on March 22, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - Fiery Juventus and France defender Patrice Evra is determined to play to the age of 40 and scoffs at the idea of international retirement after Euro 2016.

"I will leave 'Les Bleus' when they have no more need of me," the 34-year-old former Manchester United left-back vowed in an interview published in Saturday's L'Equipe.

The tireless defender has played 71 times for France, notably as captain in the 2010 World Cup and also at Brazil in 2014, and a succession of national handlers have banked on his massive commitment.

"So long as I'm still playing football, I want to play for France too. I want to remain at the top level," he said.

"My models are (Javier) Zanetti, (Ryan) Giggs and (Paolo) Maldini. They all stopped at 40. So long as I have the legs, I'll keep running," he promised.

Although out of contract with Juventus in June, Evra will be a first choice left-back for France at Euro 2016 and should the Turin club fail to offer him an extension he will have a long list of suitors.

The one blemish on Evra's report card is the player strike at the 2010 World Cup, which was caused by a dressing room leak that led to Nicolas Anelka being sent home.

Evra was captain of the side and insists he persuaded the team not to effect a strike during a match, but many in France have never forgiven him for his leading role in their shambolic first-round exit that followed a training ground strike at their Knysna camp.

"I'm not looking for affection," says the player who describes himself as the most consistent left-back in the world over the past 10 years.

"Critics cannot hurt me."