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"This was exciting news. Genuinely exciting news. Immediately, my mind processed thoughts of how this technically gifted forward would fit into the United style and link with the existing stars."

* Where were you when you heard of Cantona's signing? Let us know here

26/11/2012 11:12, Report by Adam Marshall
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Blog: A moment in time

I vividly remember my instant response. "Oh no, not Lee Chapman!" My heart sank. The blond battering ram had been the main target man for the champions and, while he often caused problems with his brawn and endeavour, he wasn't my idea of a star striker signing for United. 

With a chuckle, my friend paused and then simply said: "Mr Flicky". This was a nickname he'd given Eric Cantona, the Gallic genius who had helped Leeds over the line in the last-ever title race of the old Division One as United imploded during a fixture pile-up. We'd had begrudging respect for his skills but from the admittedly limited highlights we'd seen, he seemed to overdo the backheels and flicks. More style than substance it was felt, rather enviously.

At the same friend's house, as I watched the Charity Shield on TV at the start of that very season with his father, I opined that he looks a great player this Eric Cantona but he doesn't seem to score too many goals. 90 minutes later and a man I would come to idolise had scored a hat-trick in the victory over Liverpool, proving I could never have a career in punditry.

This was exciting news. Genuinely exciting news. Immediately, my mind processed thoughts of how this technically gifted forward would fit into the United style and link with the existing stars. He'd been in trouble in France and had something of a reputation for being l'enfant terrible but what a bolt out of blue this was.

As I digested the information, I was asked if I felt he would turn out to be a good signing. "He'll either be a massive success or a huge failure," I proferred. "There will be no middle ground." Sensing I'd urged on the side of caution, I quickly made for the newsagents at the University and there was the news plastered all over the back pages. It had actually happened - no speculation, no build-up. A done deal. 

I spent the entire lecture sitting at the back and reading the three or four papers I'd bought to get myself up to speed with the story. I could not wait to see Cantona pull on the red shirt and hoped he would be the man to fire the club to long-overdue glory in the league and Europe. Even in my wildest dreams, I could not have anticipated just how big a catalyst he would prove to be.

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