"Normally, I wouldn't have expected Martin Edwards to ring back. This time he did ring, about an hour later, offering me a different player I knew Howard would not be interested in."

- Bill Fotherby, former chairman of Leeds United

26/11/2012 08:00, Report by Adam Marshall
1 of 3 Next 

How Leeds sold Cantona

Former Leeds United chairman Bill Fotherby has recalled the day when the then-champions sanctioned the controversial sale of Eric Cantona to fierce rivals Manchester United.

The Frenchman moved across the Pennines 20 years ago after Howard Wilkinson lined up a bid for Denis Irwin, with the phone call between the two clubs becoming the stuff of legend.

Shedding more light on that fateful conversation, Fotherby revealed to PA Sport that another player was offered to Leeds before the deal to send Cantona to Old Trafford was struck.

"I remember that phone call clearly, as though it was yesterday," said Fotherby, who was managing director at the time.

"We had initially signed Eric on a recommendation from Michel Platini, who told Howard Wilkinson he had to look at the boy. Platini said he could be very difficult to handle but that he had the potential to be a great player.

"My job was to go and see the player and talk to his agent. Then Howard spoke to him and we tried to convince him Leeds United were the club to come to.

"We agreed to pay him something like £500,000 if we kept him after the initial period of six months. It was an immense amount of money for Leeds but we agreed to it because we had this recommendation from Platini and we judged the most important thing was to get the player. We wanted to do whatever it took and deal with the rest afterwards. But there were difficulties almost immediately.

"Apart from Lee Chapman, no-one in the squad spoke fluent French and, for Howard, it was a bit of a nightmare. Although we had won the title, there was just no connection between the two and, in the end, he told me to try and find Eric another club.

1 of 3 Next 


Premier League