Football journalist and United We Stand fanzine editor Andy Mitten on the day he went to interview Cantona...
After a 500 kilometre drive around the Mediterranean from Barcelona to Marseille, Eric Cantona told me that he couldn’t see me for the agreed interview. He doesn’t do mobile phones and told me face to face in a scruffy hotel near Marseille’s old port, his formidable bushy eyebrows framing his dark, impenetrable eyes.
I didn’t care much for his reputation at that point. You don’t agree to something and then go back on your word. Then he said, “Tomorrow morning. We meet here. Then I have time.”
An afternoon in Marseille’s brilliant white urban sprawl it was then, under azure skies. And a night in Marseille to kill, which is altogether different. Avoiding the lairy bars, I went to an internet café. This is where a couple got lucky. Gary Knight, a long time friend, emailed to say he and his wife Wendy were holding a charity football match to help raise funds for SANDS: Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society. Their son Ged had been stillborn at 37 weeks.
Eric was duly waiting the next morning. It was Bastille Day and he was wearing a French national shirt and sporting a beard flecked with grey. He is taller, wider and more imposing than you might
"We were in the conference room of a Marseille hotel, standing by the obligatory flip chart of A2 paper. 'Just write something on there,' I said. 'You’ve just told me that you’re an artist. Show it'.”
- Andy Mitten