On January 25, 1995 the French Eric Cantona, with the Manchester United shirt, stained his career with an episode that today, in contemporary society, would bring social media chats into focus. Back then, in a slower society, there was still a scandal. The player among the most representative of Alex Ferguson’s team had exaggerated, kicking the fan Matthew Simmons, sporting from the stands, after hearing some gratuitous insults.
“Cantona is with Manchester United on the field of Crystal Palace, and the second half has just begun, Richard Shaw is holding him while he is running, and it’s all a precipitate of events. The frustration foul, the red drawn by Alan Wilkie and those long seconds as he leaves the pitch seem like a collective preparation for the twist. There is Ferguson impassive as he passes by, the referee who continues to follow him with his eyes. Seconds that pass very slowly. It is enough for Matthew Simmons to leave his seat and go as close to the field as possible, shouting what was better not shouting. Because Cantona hears everything, runs towards that too many fan and pulls out a kung fu move: he jumps, stretches his right leg, he even raises his left but he just needs one to hit. Justice has been done. Is it possible to justify a footballer who flies to hit a fan who insults him with a kick? No, but he is Cantona and not an educator, he does not want to be a model of life, no footballer is, no artist. Cantona did 120 hours of social services and 9 months of disqualification. Then he came back, Manchester were there waiting for him and he won league titles, cups, he was player of the year. Without repenting“, Fulvio Paglialunga wrote beautifully, in the Newspaper, just before the start of the pandemic on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the episode.
“Cantona attacked a Crystal Palace fan in London, jumping over the inconsistent dividing barrier, hitting him with two kung-fu-style kicks. Cantona was sent off, the first time for him this season: leaving the field he was insulted by fans of the London team. At one point it exploded. What to extract from the episode? Well, it must be noted that, thanks to the intervention of a hated Frenchman, then representative of a very snubbed football in Albion, the beautiful story of British lands without fences or with symbolic fences takes a very hard blow. At this rate it will end up that the spectators will ask for the protective barriers, but to be saved by the followers of Cantona, or recidivist from him. Eric has his own temper: and the Corsican origins guarantee the constant boiling of his blood“, The newspaper La Stampa hotly published on January 27, 1995.
After all Cantona, who is also an actor and always has been, at least since he spoke at a memorable press conference of seagulls following the fishing boat, he said of himself: “I have this passion inside me that I can’t handle. It’s like a fire inside you asking to escape and you have to let go. Sometimes he wants to go out to hurt. And I get hurt. It worries me when I do harm, especially to others. But I can’t be who I am without these other sides of my character“.
The Guardian, through the signature of David Lacey, told the game like this, which for the record ended 1-1. “Manchester United failed to reach the top of the Premiership last night, but that turned out to be the least of their problems. Once again the Old Trafford season has been set in turmoil by the human nitroglycerin that is Eric Cantona. The Frenchman lived a completely unhappy evening: from the beginning he complained about some contrasts received and when Shaw took him from behind in the 48 ‘the notoriously short Gallic fuse was reignited. Out of the red card and out of Cantona, for the fifth time in 16 months. As he walked along the sideline a young spectator ran to the front of the grandstand, hurling verbal insults. Cantona immediately jumped on to the fan, with both feet at chest height. The Frenchman then threw several punches before police, stewards, team officials and other players separated the two. […] As gifted as he was as a footballer, the Frenchman has once again demonstrated the fatal flaw in his temper, which ultimately saw him leave the football league in France after a series of clashes with the authorities. Since joining Manchester United from Leeds, he has proved a source of inspiration, but the devil in his pocket has never really gone away.“.
Did Cantona learn the lesson? Certainly, in his own way. In 2021, at the end of April, he reiterated that the episode is his only regret: “I should have hit it harder“, Explained the French speaking of Simmons. No repentance, but in the end History has forgiven him: and several players of the then Premier, speaking today, sigh thinking that they wanted to do exactly like the legendary number seven.
#Cantonas #kick #FormulaPassionit
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