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28/11/2012 08:00, Report by Gemma Thompson

Eric and Me: Gemma Thompson

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 I fulfilled a lifelong ambition of interviewing the great man himself, sat inside the very arena where he had weaved his flamboyant magic. And he didn’t disappoint. He’s never disappointed. After all, he is not a man, he is Cantona... and a hero to many.

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