Cantona receiving an award in Monaco.

The inspiration behind Cantona's UEFA speech

Thursday 10 October 2019 11:08

Manchester United great Eric Cantona has revealed the inspiration behind his incredible speech at a recent UEFA awards ceremony in Monaco, which became a viral sensation in the football world.

The Frenchman received the UEFA President's Award in August, to commemorate his decorated football career and continued support of charitable causes.

King Eric, who scored 82 goals in 185 Reds, was presented with the accolade by UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin during the UEFA Champions League group-stage draw in Monte Carlo.

Despite it being a black-tie event, Cantona was dressed casually in a flat cap and red shirt as he took to the stage to deliver his acceptance speed.

What followed was a typically brilliant turn at the microphone, quoting Shakespeare's King Lear to a stunned and amused audience.

“As flies to wanton boys we are for the gods, they kill us for their sport,” said Cantona. “Soon the science will not only be able to slow down the ageing of the cells, soon the science will fix the cells to the state and so we will become eternal. Only accidents, crimes, wars, will still kill us but unfortunately, crimes, wars, will multiply. I love football. Thank you.”

Shortly after that glitzy awards ceremony, Cantona travelled to Lyngdal, southern Norway, for a low-key appearance at a United fans’ event, which Inside United editor Ben Ashby was invited to attend.

Eric was a guest of honour for a dinner at the town’s Rosfjord Strandhotell, where around 100 people were treated to a fascinating on-stage Q&A with the iconic Old Trafford hero. 
When discussing the inspiration behind his speech, our enigmatic icon admitted to the crowd that his words were inspired by some topical reading on the day.

“I didn't think about the speech, really,” Cantona explained. “I was reading in the morning an article about an exhibition in Paris on Francis Bacon, and I read that he used to like this sentence, from King Lear, Shakespeare. I started doing that.”

Read more about Cantona’s trip to Norway in the November edition of Inside United, which features an exclusive three-page interview with our former no.7