It’s a name that invokes that invokes victory, that invokes the unexpected. It is a name that invokes drama.
And on the pitch, it was rarely more dramatic than him winning us the FA Cup against Liverpool, with a stunning volley from outside the box in 1996.
A volley that weaved its way, controlled by the precision laser guidance system of narrative destiny, through around 150 people in the box and beat the Spice Boys.
“I don’t believe it” cried the commentator. Well, you should believe it, it’s the kind of thing that happened when Eric was around.
It wasn’t necessarily a cup final United “deserved” to win – a scrappy game, which Liverpool probably had the best of. But there were 30 seconds of the purest form of Cantona, the distilled essence of 1990s Manchester United.
This was before Liverpool were anything like knocked off their perch and beating them in a cup final was the sweetest kind of victory. And, like so many of the good things that happened around then, it happened because of Eric.
There’s an interview that Cantona gave where he reminisced about that shot. He mimed shooting a rifle and explained that a football shot is different, less precise. He said you need some luck for a shot like that to work.
Call it whatever you like. I’m pretty sure it was magic.
Eric. It’s a name that invokes magic.