Home » “You hate me. You love me. I am only judged by myself”: Eric Cantona reflects on life and aging

“You hate me. You love me. I am only judged by myself”: Eric Cantona reflects on life and aging

by Alex Browne

Eric Cantona’s post football career has twisted and turned like a racetrack.

The latest corner leads us to Eric the musician, as The Peoples Person reported recently.

Now, in an interview with The Times, the Manchester United legend has spoken about his new EP entitled, “I’ll Make My Own Heaven”.

“The King”, as he is known in the red half of Manchester, has a long and fascinating C.V. After hanging up his boots during his prime at 30 years old, just off the back of a fourth title in five years for the Old Trafford outfit, the Frenchman took up acting.

He appeared in as the French ambassador with Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth (1998) or as himself in Ken Loach’s Looking for Eric (2009). The United legend was also involved in numerous theatre productions and it was in this world where he met his second and current wife.

Furthermore, Cantona not only tasted success on grass but also led France to glory in the 2005 Beach Soccer World Cup.

Naturally, the enigmatic Frenchman then taught himself how to play guitar during lockdown and although he describes himself as “not good at all” and refuses to play on stage, it is with typical confidence that the footballing wizard has already released an album.

Cantona’s voice is described by the writer of the piece, Josh Glacy, as a “kind of rough, gravelly anti-melody resonant of Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan.” Cantona himself defines it as more personnalité than opera singer. The mythical former number seven claims that he follows “el duende” as his artistic guide. This is an idea developed by Federico Garcia Lorca, whose poems he takes while touring. “Duende is freedom. Instinct. Impulsivity,” he says. “The genius is to find the light in a very dark tunnel. As much as possible in this crazy world.”

According to the interviewer, the enigmatic former forward may not be the most talented musician in the world but as always, “his charisma is irresistible”. As someone in the audience told the interviewer, “you wouldn’t catch Rooney doing that”.

At a recent concert in London, around 20 members of the audience, many cloaked in 1990s retro United shirts, launched into a full-throated rendition of “ooh ahh Cantona”. In Manchester, they sang for 30 minutes after the concert had finished. So, what is the magnetic appeal of the Frenchman?

The author of the article exclaimed whilst interviewing Cantona he felt like he was “sitting with a myth as well as an actual person”. He asserted that he was overcome with a rare feeling of being the presence of royalty or presidents.

The EP and the interview itself touch the upon the subject of age and time moving on as friends are lost. The footballing artist asserts that he follows the mantra of not doing anything he doesn’t want to do. Would we seriously expect another response? As the mercurial Frenchman’s knees creak after a footballing career and his friends begin to fade, he asserts “I see time differently”.

Liberty and expressing oneself is another major theme of his latest work. “Freedom is the main reason why I want and need so much to express myself”. This is hardly surprising when the man from Marseilles spent his playing career serenading football grounds at home and abroad with free-spirited wonder.

Cantona is Cantona. He is nobody else’s man. He claims “I have been a criminal. I have been angelic. I have been infernal. You hate me. You love me. I am only judged by myself”. The talismanic former captain is a box of contradictions but as he so elegantly states “I don’t need mushrooms, I am naturally psychedelic”.

Anyone who was lucky enough to be a Manchester United fans in the 1990s would certainly attest to that.

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