“It’s as it should be,” he explains. “They give me support and I give them something in return. It is the perfect exchange. A quarter of an hour with the supporters now and then is the least I can give. In France I have often refused to sign autographs, and I have gone as far as to criticise the public violently. But that’s different. There’s no love there. No passion.” It’s a passion returned every Saturday as the Old Trafford choir sing the Marseillaise. Unheard of this side of the tunnel since 1066.
It is well known that Cantona’s career in England has not been free of controversy. We’ve all seen the endless action replays of his tackles and his fuming Spitting Image; his behaviour on the pitch, and the subsequent sendings-off which have seen him sidelined for some of the most important matches United have played. When confronted on the issue of his volatile behaviour, he seems keen to explain himself, and his answer once again has a refreshing ring of authenticity about it.
“I have a passion inside me, the passion which leads me to want to create something, a certain fire which I have inside me which demands to be let out. Releasing it is what fuels my success. I couldn’t possibly have that fire without accepting the fact that sometimes it wants to come out to do harm. It does do harm. I do myself harm. I’m aware of doing myself harm, of doing harm to others. I’m aware of letting people down who don’t understand that I cannot be what I am without these other sides to my character.”
But can this change? Can Cantona control his exuberance and keep on the right side of officials and the rulebook? He knows he must. “But I