“I would have loved to have kicked him even harder.”
Eric Cantona has said his only regret from his famous kung-fu kick assault on a Crystal Palace fan is that he didn’t kick him harder.
Manchester United legend Cantona received a nine-month suspension from the FA after his attack on Matthew Simmons.
Cantona launched himself at Simmons after being sent off during United’s game with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in January 1995.
The Frenchman pleaded guilty to assault and served a community service period. Cantona subsequently missed the remainder of United’s season as they surrendered their Premier League crown to Blackburn Rovers.
Speaking in a new film called The United Way (via the Daily Mail), Cantona opened up on the incident.
“I have been insulted thousands of times and have never reacted, but sometimes you are fragile,” said the former striker, who returned to inspire United to two more league titles before retiring from football in 1997 at the age of 30.
“I have one regret. I would have loved to have kicked him even harder. I was banned for nine months. They wanted me to be an example.”
Cantona also revealed how Alex Ferguson persuaded him to stay at Old Trafford after he had been found to have breached the rules of his suspension by taking part in a behind-closed-doors friendly for United.
“It was just a friendly game, but the journalist was on top of a tree outside and he took a picture,” he said.
“Unfortunately he didn’t fall. The next day it was in the paper and the FA wanted to ban me even more.
“The manager found the right words like always. And I loved him and respected him. Like a father.
“When a manager does something like this to his player, the player will give his life to the manager, to the club and to the fans.
“They were all behind me. Some clubs maybe would have sacked me but Manchester United offered me a new contract. That’s the difference between Manchester United and the other ones.”
Solskjaer on Cantona.
Current United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also reflects on Cantona’s retirement in the documentary with the Norwegian telling a great story of how the Frenchman remained tight-lipped on his plans.
“The last game of the league that season, he rented a restaurant for me and Jordi Cruyff and Eric and our families,” recalled Solskjaer.
“We had a good time, a great night, celebrated winning the league again. Two days after, I heard on the radio he had retired. He never mentioned one word to us.
“We were dancing, having fun. 4 am in the morning. We went home. Not one word. That was Eric in a nutshell.”
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