Eric Cantona on UTD Podcast

Cantona's podcast: Five things we learned

In case you hadn’t heard, this week’s UTD Podcast stars the one-and-only Eric Cantona.

The Reds’ legendary no.7 sat down with hosts Sam Homewood, Helen Evans and David May to take us on a journey from the early days of living in a converted cave in Marseille, through his half-a-decade at Old Trafford, to his current life as an actor and producer.

And, as you might expect from almost an hour spent with the enigmatic Frenchman, we learned plenty along the way…

HE WAS ORIGINALLY A GOALKEEPER

United’s trophy cabinet might be a touch emptier if Cantona’s team back home in Marseille had not been so talented. That’s because Eric originally played in goal, before moving further forward after regularly getting bored by his lack of involvement during games.

“I played in a team where we were so good, so I waited for all the week, for the game at the weekend, and we won every game 6-0 or 7-0, and I never touched the ball,” Cantona said. “Maybe if I played up front, I would touch the ball and it started like this.”

Cantona: I have no regretsVideo

HE HAS NO REGRETS

Cantona’s kung-fu kick at Selhurst Park in January 1995, and his subsequent nine-month ban from all forms of football, must be one of the most written about and discussed episodes in the sport’s long and storied history, but the man himself has revealed he wouldn’t change anything. When asked if he would do it again, he replied: “Yes, of course, because I am happier where I am today.

“I am what I am today because I’ve lived all kinds of experiences, good and bad. I’m very optimistic and when something bad happens, I say to myself ‘you have to take away what you would not have taken if it didn’t happen, and it will take you in a better place’.”

HE MADE UP THE SEAGULLS QUOTE

Eric’s quote from his first press conference after the ban was arguably as memorable as any of the magic he produced on the pitch for the Reds. It may, however, surprise you to know that the famous ‘when the seagulls follow the trawler’ quip was completely off-the-cuff, rather than a pre-planned remark.

“I didn’t plan it because my plan was not to speak to the press,” Cantona told the podcast. “Why do I have to do the press? They were destroying me for weeks! But the lawyer from the club, Maurice Watkins, told me I had to say something. I said no, but he told me I had to. I said something and it meant nothing to me, and they all tried to find meaning. I loved it. I could have said ‘I love this barn’ or ‘a wire chicken is not flying over my head’.”

WHY HE DECIDED TO RETIRE

Cantona, of course, quit at the end of the 1996/97 season, after four Premier League titles in five years. Aged just 30, the decision came as a shock to many, but Eric had a specific reason for giving up, as he revealed to our hosts.

“I stopped because I lost the passion. That’s it. I always say, I was 22 and I gave an interview in France where I said when I will lose the passion for the game, I will retire. And I lost the passion for the game and I retired. But it takes time, you fight against this idea, because you love the game.”

HOW THE ACTING CAME ABOUT

Since he hung up his boots, Eric has appeared in over 25 films. While other players from his era, such as Vinnie Jones and Frank Leboeuf, have also made the transition to the big screen, Cantona is perhaps the most notable footballer-turned-actor, and it all started with a TV advert in 1996.

“Well, I started to do advertising and I realised I really enjoyed being in front of the camera,” he explains. “I have been lucky because I was involved in very good adverts. I was lucky, but also, I choose [which ones to do] and I think it was Robert De Niro who said the talent is in the choice.

“At this time, the advert from Nike was the beginning of great adverts. They created something special with different players. I was lucky to be involved and the kind of revolution in advertising, with some great directors. I really enjoyed it.”

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