Albert Morgan has reflected on the impact Eric Cantona had on the club, particularly the youngsters that were coming through the ranks, with the likes of Scholes, Beckham, Butt and the Nevilles sharing his dedication to hard work and improvement.
“He was a big influence on the other lads because he was the first one I met who’d be out practicing in the afternoon,” he said. “Scholes, Becks, the Nevilles and all their generation were in awe of him. He’d be in The Cliff banging a ball against a wall, perfecting his skills – I can always remember being away for the cup final against Liverpool. We were staying at a place called Oakley Court in Windsor, and all the staff were having the usual meal on the Friday night with the manager when I just saw this ground floor window opening in the hotel, and next thing I know there’s a leg coming out of it. Then another, and then this body slipped down the wall and it was Eric. I just said to the manager ‘What’s going on here?’ and of course the manager looked across and we both just started laughing as Eric was doing stretches and exercises against the wall – he had his leg up on the window sill and all. He did that for about ten minutes, climbed back up the wall, shut the window and was off to sleep.”
After Cantona left the club, it was Beckham that inherited the #7 shirt, having been greatly influenced by the Frenchman.
“Robbo was around when Eric came in but it was really Eric who kicked it all off,” he said. “I can remember David Beckham when Eric left – he was desperate for that number 7 shirt, absolutely desperate, and he did very well in it when he got it. Eric though was the one that clicked everything together, I don’t like to say he was the final piece in the jigsaw but he was a massive, massive piece in the jigsaw, that’s for sure.”
Albert Morgan was speaking at the launch of the no. 7-inspired Manchester United Collection which is available from www.nike.com.