the dressing room one night and all the lads had their suits on. Eric comes walking in, he had a nice blue suit on with a lovely pair of tan shoes, and these were in the days when you’d only wear black shoes with a suit. With this he had a nice blue three-quarter length overcoat and a pink beret. If I’d worn it they’d have sent me to the madhouse but Eric looked a million dollars and I’ll never forget Steve Bruce sat on the other side of the dressing room reading his programme – he just looked up and went “Ooh aah”. That sums up Eric for me.
So what was Eric Cantona like behind closed doors?
Eric was a nice guy and loved a joke but he was a very private man. I didn’t see it myself but a friend of mine used to live around the corner from him in Worsley and apparently Eric used to go into one of the local pubs, The Bridgewater, and it was one of these very loud pubs with a booth in the back. Eric was never out lapping up the attention – he used to go out the back and play dominos with the old lads and they loved him. He’d get himself a Coca-Cola and go sit in the back with the old guys. Apparently they worshipped the ground he walked on.
So he kept himself to himself?
He really was just a normal man and he still is – he’s top drawer.
Was he a big influence on the rest of the team in the dressing room before matches or at half-time?
He was a big influence on the other lads because he was the first one I met who’d be out practicing in the afternoon. Scholes, Becks, the Nevilles and all their generation were in awe of him. He’d be at The Cliff banging a ball against a wall, perfecting his skills. I can always remember being away for the cup final against Liverpool. We were staying at a place called Oakley Court in Windsor and all the staff were having the usual meal on the Friday night with the manager when I just saw this ground floor window opening in the hotel. Next thing I know there’s a leg coming out of it. Then another, and then