ManUtd.com's Gemma Thompson on the life-changing influence of Eric…
They say you should never meet your hero for you'll be disappointed. It's not true. It’s something I've been lucky enough to do a few times - interview him no less - and fortunately I have never once felt let down by my meetings with a certain Frenchman. Quite the opposite in fact.
Indeed no-one I have come across in my lifetime has the presence, aura and warmth of Eric Daniel Pierre Cantona and disappointment is something I have never experienced during our rendezvouses. In some respects, Eric is the reason I currently sit typing this blog from the Manchester United Media office at Old Trafford.
Reporting on United was my dream from a young age and, although I didn’t realise it at the time, the day Eric made his comeback against Liverpool on 1 October 1995 from his ban for his infamous kung-fu kick turned out to be as big a day in my life as it was in Eric's.
For this was the game I decided to write about for my entry for a journalism competition in the official United magazine - one of the publications I now work on. I won it and thereafter began my journey up the United media ladder (via GCSEs, A-Levels and a degree, of course). Behind that drive and determination to make it as a United journalist was always my admiration for Eric, he was the one who inspired me to write.
I remember as if were yesterday my first meeting with him as an excited 11-year-old, on 19 January 1993, at the Cliff where I had waited with other fans to get a photo and autograph. On 27 April 2006