Morgan Schneiderlin has lavished praise on “special” Manchester United legend Eric Cantona.
Cantona joined Man United in 1992 and established himself as a firm fans’ favourite at Old Trafford with some memorable displays before announcing his retirement in 1997.
French compatriot Schneiderlin, meanwhile, joined United from Southampton last summer. The midfielder explained what made Cantona such a formidable player in an interview with United Review.
“The first time I saw Eric Cantona play I said: ‘Oh, that guy is elegant.’ I didn’t watch him live during the time he was at United but I watched a lot of videos,” Schneiderlin said.
“I remember my dad and uncle were very keen on him and talked about how classy he was on the pitch. I remember seeing one chip he scored [against Sunderland 19 years ago today in December 1996]. He then stood still to celebrate, just looking around the stands.
“He’s a United legend because of everything he did for this club but he was so special because he had a different character. He was someone that you had to respect because of the way he was. Some people walk into a room and you say: ‘Wow, he has something special’. Eric had that – it was just inside him. Even now when he speaks and when he does an interview, you have a lot of journalists waiting for certain words or something he might say that’s different. He would say very loudly what was in his head, like that line in his press conference when he came back from his suspension – amazing!
“It’s hard to say why he and United went together so well, but I think United is the biggest club in the world and he was maybe then the biggest character in the world game. I think of his charisma and the way he was and I think that’s what the English people, especially the United fans, liked very much. He was honest, a class player and a very talented player as well. Eric finished his career when he was very young but will always be a legend at this football club.”
United could certainly do with a forward of Cantona’s stature, swagger and confidence right now as Louis van Gaal’s side continue to struggle this term.
That being said, it is unlikely that supporters will ever see a player of Cantona’s talents ever again; he was a true one-off. Cantona’s displays on the pitch, coupled with his captivating personality, has seen him achieve legendary status at Old Trafford and players such as Schneiderlin have a lot of work to do if they are to reach the same heights.