'Lonely Man Utd days the hardest of my career' - Valdes refuses to blame 'father figure' Van Gaal for Old Trafford nightmare

The former Barcelona goalkeeper was banished from the senior team by Louis van Gaal, having been accused of refusing to play for the Red Devils' U-21 side

Middlesbrough goalkeeper Victor Valdes holds no hard feelings toward Louis van Gaal or Manchester United after being frozen out of the club last season.

Valdes arrived at United on a free transfer in 2015 but after just two Premier League appearances, the three-time Champions League winner was quickly banished from the senior team having been accused of refusing to play for the Under-21 side.

The 34-year-old has since revealed that his nightmare spell at Old Trafford almost led him to call it a day, describing his stint at United as the unhappiest time of his club career.

"Sometimes at United I thought 'I don't need this', but I am a fighter and a professional," Valdes told Sky Sports. "This was the biggest fight of my career and I won it.

"It's difficult to explain, but it was hard being alone. The easy way out would have been to end my career."

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Given a lifeline by Aitor Karanka at newly-promoted Middlesbrough, Valdes is enjoying his football again, though the 34-year-old insisted he is still a fan of former United and Barca boss Van Gaal.

"I feel like a professional goalkeeper again after all those hard days in Manchester," he added. "But I don't have any bad words for Van Gaal or Manchester United.

"He's like a father figure to me. I don't want to remember the last six months in a bad way - for me he is top. We are still friends and there is no problem between us.

"They helped me through my injury and the manager gave me my chance as a footballer at Barcelona and then again at United.

"I want to say in a public way thank you to the U21 coach Alan Fettis - without him I may have given up football. He made me keep going and stopped me when I was thinking about bringing my career to an end."

After making his Middlesbrough bow in the 1-1 draw at home to Stoke City last week, Valdes is back in action against Sunderland on Sunday.