Cantona: kung-fu kick my most treasured memory
The enigmatic Frenchman says that he is pleased the fans remember and ‘enjoyed’ his moment of madness
Football legend Eric Cantona has a show reel of career highlights longer than Ben Hur, but he is still best remembered for his astonishing kung-fu attack on an abusive fan in 1995 - and now the enigmatic Frenchman has claimed that it is the most treasured memory of his career.
He said it was a "great feeling" to lay into Crystal Palace supporter Matthew Simmons and is pleased so many fans enjoyed it.
Cantona's moment of madness happened as he ran the gauntlet of abuse from fans after being sent off during a game between Manchester United and Palace 16 years ago. He finally snapped as he walked past Simmons and leapt feet first into the crowd, catching his target in the chest and then trading blows with him.
In an interview with the BBC's Football Focus Cantona said: "I think that maybe it's like a dream for some people sometimes, to kick these kinds of people. So I did it for them. So they are happy. It's a kind of freedom for them. So they speak about that because maybe they felt something special, physically. It's a great feeling but difficult."
He then explained, apparently with his tongue in his cheek, why it was his most treasured memory. "I've seen so many players scoring goals," he said. "But this one, a player jumping and kicking a hooligan, it's not the kind of thing you see every day."
Cantona later admitted: "It was a mistake. But that's life, that's me. I'm strong enough to come back."
Following the incredible incident, a 'where were you when...' moment for most football fans, Cantona was banned for eight months. After being punished he emerged to famously, and gravely, announce to the press: "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea."
He retired from football in 1997 and embarked on a successful acting career, appearing in the 1998 film Elizabeth. Cantona has kept up his renegade streak and recently encouraged people in France to withdraw all their money from banks.
Earlier this year the Frenchman was appointed director of football at the New York Cosmos, although he will presumably not be encouraging his players to take on supporters in the stands, no matter how good it feels. ·
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