I am often in the company of current Manchester United players, especially on away trips and pre-season tours. I am still treated like one of the family, like I am still a player. It is an honour and a privilege. United may be a global football institution, but at the heart of that there is a family feeling which is a key to the success of the club.
I speak to nearly all the players, but there is one I never exchanged a single word with: Dimitar Berbatov.
Other players, especially strikers, like to talk football to me. They will talk about past games, ask how the club has changed.
Not Dimitar. I have passed him in hotel corridors and not exchanged glances. It did not bother me one bit.
When he arrived at Old Trafford in the club's record transfer deal, in 2008, several members of staff tried to make him feel at home by inviting him round for dinner. He did not accept one invitation, merely stating that doing such things "isn't me".
He was not one for mixing. If a team activity was arranged, he would stay in his room. Some could not get their head around him.
The United players called him "James Dean" and "Andy Garcia" (he looked like both), but they said he had "the swag" - swagger - and that he was the man.
Me, I thought he was one cool guy. I liked him and admired his talents. He was paid to perform on the football field, not talk about the weather.
He has been accused of being aloof and arrogant. Aloof, yes. Does that make him a bad person? No.
The British have a problem if you are different, if you are your own man. And he is definitely his own man, misunderstood by most. He has little time for small talk. What's wrong with that? He is a quiet man.
He is an unbelievably talented player and I was pleased when he signed for United. He had lifted an average Tottenham Hotspur team, he had so much talent, which he had shown at Bayer Leverkusen.
That is why Manchester City wanted him. He is proving it again now at Fulham, a club I also played for, who are anything but fashionable. Dimitar and I had much in common, not that we spoke.
He did well at United. He plucked the ball out of the air from 40 yards with a single touch. Do you realise how hard it is to manipulate a football like that? He scored an overhead kick as part of a hat-trick against Liverpool and five goals in one game against Blackburn Rovers. I scored five in one game for United once. Not that he wanted to talk about it.
Some said he was lazy because he did not have the work ethic of Carlos Tevez or Wayne Rooney. He is not that type of player and you cannot change a player's style.
He is a man who provides the magic, a man who plays the game at his pace and is good enough to slow the game down to his own tempo. That is an incredible quality to have in a league as good as the Premier League
The United team he played for was not considered the best, either, so he got a bit of stick for that, too, yet he was still a league champion, the top scorer in England.
He was not even on the bench for the 2011 Uefa Champions League final and that was the beginning of the end for him at Old Trafford.
He left for Fulham, a lovely club where players are looked after and everyone is happy if you finish near the top 10. I enjoyed my time there.
I laughed when I saw the "Keep calm and pass me the ball" T-shirt he was wearing underneath his shirt for Fulham recently. He showed it when he scored.
Arrogant? Of course. Brilliant? Yes. And absolutely true; the self-assured arrogance of a man with absolute belief in his ability. If his teammates did give him the ball then they would not have to run around as much, that is for sure.
He scored a fantastic goal for Fulham against Stoke City last Saturday, a first-time volley I doubt any other player in England could pull off. He looked nonplussed. That is his right.
History will remember him as a top, top player, an immense talent. Critics claim he could have been even better, that he did not fulfil that talent because he was lazy. There is only one man who can answer that and he is unlikely to talk about anything, not least himself. And that, too, is his prerogative.
Andrew Cole's column is written with the assistance of the European football correspondent Andy Mitten.
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