“The role I had in the team, Alex Ferguson gave me, he created this role in what he had seen in me, in the player I was and the personality I had.”
Continuing to talk about the “number ten” position, he went on to say: “He is the one who created it, it is not the kind of thing you ask for. You have to earn it, but you also need someone to drive you. It depends on the tactics of the team, what he expects from players. I’m very proud (of playing that role), what can I say, it’s great.”
During his five seasons at Manchester United, Cantona scored a total of 80 goals, with 64 coming in the Premier League. He cost just over one million pounds from Leeds United, moving in 1993 after winning the first division with them in the last year of its existence. He went on to win four Premier League titles and two FA Cups with Manchester United before leaving in 1997.
His playing time at Manchester United spanned two “generations” of players. He played alongside, amongst others, Steve Bruce, Mark Hughes and Brian McClair as well as David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes; the latter two are still playing today.
“Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes are different to me. When I was 20 I gave interviews and said if I lose the passion, the fire, I will stop and try do something else. But those that still play and still have the fire, it’s good. I would have loved to have this fire forever and try to play forever. But I just lost it and retired.”
His final appearance for Manchester United was David Busst’s testimonial against Coventry at Old Trafford on the 16th May 1997.
ESPN will air the full interview with Eric Cantona at 10pm this thursday. It will be repeated at 4pm on Saturday, prior to ESPN’s exclusively live broadcast of Norwich v Man United.