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04/12/2012 11:02, Report by Ben Hibbs
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Cole: Eric had extra

like a family off the football pitch. The crazy thing is, nobody was allowed to take liberties on the football pitch. If you ever felt that there was an injustice on the pitch, it was a vendetta, and your team-mates would sort it out for you. That’s just how close that team was. The camaraderie was incredible. When you’ve got a team bond like that it’s special. And that’s made up of all the characters involved."

“I remember having a conversation about Eric with Bryan Robson and he summed it up perfectly: when Eric first arrived he was that little bit of magic that the team needed. The catalyst. There was already an extremely hard-working team with some real quality players – the players in that team had almost everything in the locker, but that something extra pushed the team over the line. So when Eric came in he brought flair and helped take it to the next level - and that team was very, very good by the way. It wasn’t like United became a one-man team. It’s just that Eric complemented the other players and added something extra. He achieved a lot at Man United and he will always go down as one of the club’s legends.”

The timing was perfect for Cantona – and for United and English football – as the explosion in popularity of the Premier League coincided with an influx of foreign talent. “Eric came to England and he was just so different from English footballers. It was the French way, he had an aura about him, an air of mystique. He was an entertainer and a showman on the field and that’s why people loved him. He could be so aloof at times that people would think: wow, I wonder what he’s thinking? Or he’d play the game and shoot straight off after the match and people would just be in awe. Half the time he was like a whirlwind. But people would watch him and say: “I want to be like Eric”. He had that effect on people.

“Would an English player get away with saying some of the things Eric said? Hell no! If you asked Eric himself he’d probably laugh about all the stuff he used to come out with – I think he said in the past he was just talking a load of mumbo jumbo when he talked about seagulls following the trawler. If I tried any of that they’d have brought the strait-jacket out!”

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