Cantona back in action
Monday 26 May 1997
A 100 or so Manchester United supporters made the pilgrimage to Lille to see the flamboyant Frenchman take his place for a North of France side against a Lille select team. The fans, who draped their banners inscribed with Birchwood Reds and New Moston Reds over the barriers and sang the Marseillaise were rewarded for their efforts as Cantona, still wearing his celebrated No 7 shirt, scored a second-half goal - even though his side lost 4-2.
While he laughed and chatted with his fellow players, including Jean Pierre Papin, Bernard Lama and the former Aston Villa player Didier Six, it was not all smiles. He looked moody as he arrived in the passenger seat of a Mercedes, wearing dark glasses and flanked by bodyguards at the Grimonperz-Jooris Stadium. But the reception he received from the fans could not have been warmer, and the typically impudent lob in the first half produced the loudest cheer of the evening.
Cantona had flown to Paris and driven to Lille to boost the testimonial of the French footballing brothers, Pascal and Stephane Plancque. Cantona played with Pascal at Auxerre in 1987 and they have remained friends ever since.
"I had a telephone call from Eric's wife Isabelle on Wednesday and when she said he was coming I was delighted," Pascal said. "Eric isn't a man to go back on his word, he has all my respect. He is a true gentleman."
The testimonial, however, is likely to be a one-off. United gave permission for Cantona to take part but will continue to hold his registration for the remaining year of his contract.
There are reports that United are still paying his pounds 15,000 per- week wages in the hope that he will reverse his decision to retire and return to lead another assault on the European Cup.
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...
£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...
£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...