Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 17 October 2019

Eric Cantona baffles crowd with Shakespearean Uefa awards speech

Former Manchester United striker is no stranger to philosophical musings

French former football star Eric Cantona receives the UEFA President's Award during the Champions League group stage draw at the Grimaldi Forum, in Monaco, Thursday, August 29, 2019. AP Photo/Daniel Cole
French former football star Eric Cantona receives the UEFA President's Award during the Champions League group stage draw at the Grimaldi Forum, in Monaco, Thursday, August 29, 2019. AP Photo/Daniel Cole

Former Manchester United striker Eric Cantona is one of the few footballing heroes known as much for his behaviour off the pitch as on it.

In a farmer’s hat and a casual red shirt with his reading glasses tucked into the top, the Frenchman, 53, began his acceptance speech on Thursday quoting Shakespeare’s King Lear.

“As flies to wanton boys are we for the gods. They kill us for the sport,” he told a confused and much more formally dressed crowd.

Cantona was on stage before the Champions League draw to collect the Uefa President's Award for his commitment to help improve the lives of others.

"Soon the science will not only be able to slow down the ageing of the cells," he said. "Soon the science will fix the cells to the state and so we will become eternal.

"Only accidents, crimes, wars, will still kill us. Unfortunately, crimes, wars will multiply. I love football. Thank you."

The football stars in the audience, including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Michael Owen, looked stunned by Cantona’s offbeat speech.

Cantona isn't new to philosophical musing. After infamously kung-fu kicking a Crystal Palace fan in 1995, in a press conference he said: "when the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea".

He also wrote a think piece for The Players' Tribune entitled "What is the meaning of life?" more recently, in October last year.

Updated: August 30, 2019 04:11 AM

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