Following on from Part I, which documents Eric Cantona’s thoughts on joining Manchester United, kicking the hooligan, his best goal, among other things, part II looks at our hero’s life post-football.
Q: Do you miss football?
E: I don’t miss it. When I retired, I wanted to do something else. Of course, it’s so strong, when you see a game on TV you remember the times. That nostalgia. It’s like when you smell the perfume of a girl when you’re 15-years-old. I just wanted to walk away and do something else. I’ve played three games for my friends. I played for Giggs, for Maradona and for Zidane in Switzerland. That’s it.
Q: Did you score in those games?
E: I think so. Yes, I did.
Q: Then you played and managed beach football. It’s hard work isn’t it, beach football?
E: People might think it’s an easy game but it is not an easy game. Of course, it’s played on the beach, with the sun, but it’s like swimming. Swimming in a pool compared to the sea. Physically it’s very hard and technically it’s very hard. The best team now is always young players, not former footballers. It’s a great game but I don’t play anymore.
Q: Moving to your acting career, we probably all remember ‘Looking For Eric’ the best.
E: It was a great experience to work with Ken Loach. We had an idea, we wrote two or three pages and we went to see Ken Loach. We were lucky. He was the first person we went to because we wanted to work with him. It took two or three years to write the script. The actors trusted him, they didn’t need the script, they just wanted to work with him because he has a great reputation.
When I arrived on the set, nobody knew that I was there, I was hidden. Steve Evets was talking to the poster, talking to me, and I just came and said something. He turned and saw me and had such a strong reaction. They were ready to shoot and they shot it. You can only have this sort of reaction in real life. This film paid tribute to the fans of United.
Q: You’ve also been involved in a lot of adverts and your image is used for a lot of things. Tell us about that.
E: They use my image and they pay me for that. We live in a world where everyone says you should be like this or dress like that. For me, I always say why should I create my image if I’m myself. This is my image, take it or don’t. I expressed myself through football and now through many things. Be yourself.
I’ve been in situations and reacted as I wish. I will react. Of course, I will react as a man because I am a man… I am not a man, I am Eric Cantona.[Crowd erupts]
E: I try as much as possible to be myself. I try. For me, it is much easier than to be an image of the system, of society. They use my image and they pay me. They use me but I use them also. The script is important, the director is important. I want to make adverts but I want to make good adverts. I would never accept something I didn’t like, whatever they paid me. I want the money, of course, but I want to do something good and be proud.
Q: We’ve seen the Football Commissioner Cantona. 50 million views for that.
E: Maybe more. I enjoyed it. I speak about football and I act. It’s not me. It’s kind of me. It’s a mix of my passions. I really, really enjoy it. Maybe because I enjoy it, other people enjoy it too. It’s like playing football. If you enjoy it, other people enjoy watching you.
Q: How disappointed were you not to win the European Cup?
E: Of course I would have loved to have won it with United. But I didn’t. But we tried. We won some things, we lost others.
Q: Do you think Zlatan Ibrahimovic is like you?
E: I think he’s a great player. He’s got a very strong personality. He’s a great player and I hope we will win many things with him. He will play an important part, for sure.
Q: When was the last time you spoke to Sir Alex Ferguson?
E: I don’t like to speak to people when I don’t see their eyes. When I come to United, I speak to him, but I don’t like to speak on the phone. It’s the same with my friends and my family. Alex Ferguson is my friend but we don’t speak too much.