Football: Eric Cantona gives perplexing speech when accepting Uefa presidential award

Former France great Eric Cantona was known as an original thinker on and off the pitch, and has a history of making nonsensical statements.
Former France great Eric Cantona was known as an original thinker on and off the pitch, and has a history of making nonsensical statements.PHOTO: REUTERS

MONACO (AP/DPA) - Former France great Eric Cantona gave a typically perplexing speech after collecting the Uefa presidential award at the Champions League draw on Thursday (Aug 29).

He said: "Only accidents, crimes, wars will still kill us, but unfortunately crimes and wars will multiply. I love football".

It came after the Frenchman, who was fondly referred to as "King Eric" by fans of former club Manchester United and has now turned his hand to acting, was asked to give his thoughts on receiving the accolade in Monaco.

Dressed in a red shirt and grey cap, he started off by invoking William Shakespeare's King Lear: "As flies to wanton boys, we are for the gods."

He added: "They will kill us for the sport. Soon the science will not only be able to slow down the aging of the cells, soon the science will fix the cells to the state and so we will become eternal."

He was presented with the award for his contributions to football in Monaco where Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin highlighted Cantona's playing career and his social commitment since retiring.

Cantona is "a man who refuses compromise, stands up for his values, speaks his mind and, in particular, puts his heart and soul into supporting the causes he believes in," Ceferin said.

Cantona, 53, has pursued an acting career since retiring from football and has also been actively involved in beach football, helping France win the 2005 beach soccer World Cup as player-coach.

 

Previous award winners include David Beckham, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff and Bobby Charlton.

Cantona was known as an original thinker on and off the pitch, and has a history of making nonsensical statements.

At a news conference in February 1995 after he was handed an eight-month ban for jumping into the stands and kicking a fan in England, his only comment before walking out of the room was: "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea."