Eric Cantona.

Cantona delivers epic speech with UEFA award

Friday 30 August 2019 09:35

Manchester United legend Eric Cantona received the UEFA President's Award on Thursday, to commemorate the Frenchman's football career and his support of charitable causes.

The club icon, who scored 82 goals in 185 Reds appearances between 1992 and 1997, was presented with the accolade by UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin at the Champions League group-stage draw in Monte Carlo.

Dressed in a flat cap and a red shirt, the Old Trafford hero began by quoting Shakespeare's King Lear and stunned the crowd with his typically brilliant speech.

"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."

The President's Award recognises outstanding achievements, professional excellence and exemplary personal qualities, with Čeferin keen to stress that he admired Cantona's commitment to improving the lives of others following the conclusion of his footballing career.
"This award not only recognises his career as a player of the highest calibre, but also honours him for the person he is – a man who refuses compromise, who stands up for his values, who speaks his mind and in particular, puts his heart and his soul into supporting the causes he believes in," the President said in a UEFA statement. 
The United legend won four Premier League titles, three Charity Shields and two FA Cups while at Old Trafford.

Along with the nine trophies Eric won during his time at Old Trafford, the footballing icon represented Auxerre, Marseille and Nîmes among others in his native France, and Leeds United in England, with whom he also won the domestic title in 1992. During his career, he dazzled crowds with his unique talent and style, while his undoubted charisma won him respect wherever he played.

Since retiring from professional football in 1997, the Frenchman has turned his hand to beach soccer and acting.

Since retiring in 1997 at the age of just 30, the Marseille-born forward has turned his hand to acting and beach soccer. However, it is his commitment to charitable causes which has won him praise from both inside and outside the footballing world.

Cantona, like Ceferin, is a committed supporter of the Common Goal initiative, which funds high-impact football charities worldwide. The pair both contribute one per cent of their annual salary to the project, which was co-founded by Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata.

The Frenchman will be presented with the UEFA President's Award on Thursday night at the Champions League draw in Monaco.

Previous winners of the UEFA President’s Award include former players such as Alfredo Di Stéfano, Sir Bobby Charlton, Eusébio, Raymond Kopa, Johan Cruyff, Francesco Totti and David Beckham. 

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