Date: 9th November 2006 at 11:56am
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Eric Cantona shocked a lot of people with his relatively early retirement in 1997. But he would have quit football in 1995 but for Sir Alex Ferguson.

The talismanic Frenchman was banned for nine-months after he had attacked a Crystal Palace supporter on 25th January, 1995. Last night he admitted his enthusiasm has been severely dented by this but Fergie talked him out if this retirement plans.

‘It is difficult enough to train for a game on a Saturday but when you are training for a game that is nine months away?’

‘I decided I’d had enough. But I have given up many times in my life for one day – then everything comes back. It’s just that the people around me don’t know that.

‘But I also need people around me to have confidence in me. It is important for me to feel that. Of course the manager helped me in that respect because he showed me he wanted me to play for Manchester United.

‘All the journalists and the media were against me, this time maybe they were right. But Sir Alex Ferguson and the club showed they had confidence in me.’

And they were rewarded for it as Cantona played arguably the finest football of his career in the following season, crowning his performances with a magnificent volley against the Scousers in the FA Cup final. Once known for his baffling comments, Canto was rather straightforward when asked about Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign.

‘Can you see Manchester United with another manager? I can’t,’ he said. ‘There are fans who are 20 years old who have never known anyone else as manager. That is incredible.

‘Maybe Manchester United will have another manager one day. Maybe Alex Ferguson has been a manager at other clubs. But you still cannot divide the two.’

Eric Cantona has played at a lot of other clubs. He spent only five years at Manchester United. But you still cannot divide the two…