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 this body slipped down the wall and it was Eric. I just said to the manager “What’s going on here?” and of course the manager looked across and we both just started laughing as Eric was doing stretches and exercises against the wall – he had his leg up on the window sill and all. He did that for about 10 minutes, climbed back up the wall, shut the window and was off to sleep.
Finally, what defines the spirit of no.7?
I think it’s personality - you’ve really got to be something special in that respect to own the no.7 shirt.