Belfast Telegraph

West Brom defender Jonny Evans: Playing abroad has always appealed to me

Jonny Evans is intrigued by the possibility of playing abroad in the future, having learned Spanish on his daily commute to the midlands.

The former Manchester United defender will turn 30 during the next season and has enjoyed another stellar campaign with both West Brom and Northern Ireland.

A three-time Premier League champion who spent last summer at the European Championship with his country, Evans has revealed the prospect of venturing on to the continent before he retires is something he would contemplate.

In fact, the defender has already started learning the Spanish lingo on his journey into training with the Baggies.

"I think playing abroad has always appealed to me," Evans said.

"A lot of people have said, 'You should go abroad'. I've always watched a lot of Spanish football and more recently German football, so it's always something which has appealed to me.

"Footballers always say, 'I'd love to play abroad' and it often never happens, perhaps because the Premier League is such a big draw and we're lucky to have that on our doorstep.

"In the back of my head, if the opportunity came up, I would think about it more than other people.

"The style of play appeals but also a different culture - a lot of foreign players come to the Premier League to play and people from different countries always seem to embrace England and learn a new language, so the whole package appeals.

"I speak a fair bit of Spanish now. Since I came to West Brom I've been learning. I was always interested in languages - I did them at school.

"I thought rather than waste three hours of my day I would start to learn Spanish in the car. I can read pretty well, and I could read a Spanish newspaper, but speaking is a different thing - you need the confidence to speak it.

"If a move ever came about... yes, why not? I am probably at the stage with my Spanish where I need to immerse myself and speak every day to progress, so I have quite a good understanding of it.

"We have a Venezuelan, (Salomon) Rondon, Argentinian (Claudio) Yacob and (Cristian) Gamboa, who is Costa Rican, was there last year, so every now and then he would text me and I'd reply in Spanish, and I think they'd be quite impressed!"

Evans will be away from these shores next week with his Northern Irish colleagues, initially in Turkey, then on to Azerbaijan - a country which holds unhappy memories for Michael O'Neill's side.

They were beaten 2-0 on their most recent trip to Baku in 2013, one month after losing to Luxembourg, and Evans saw red in stoppage time for kicking out an Azeri player.

"It was probably a turning point for me," the defender said. "I had a head loss in the game and it wasn't going well, so I lashed out at someone. We were losing, it wasn't a good game.

"I spoke to Michael after and we were talking about it and I got a lot of things off my chest.

"I didn't want to be in the position again where I had felt like I let him down, and my family down. So I said, 'Right, no more of that'."

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