Eric Cantona celebrates scoring a goal with David Beckham. Old Trafford, 1996

Eric Cantona’s Meaning of Life

A poignant tale of life and circumstances from Eric Cantona is the epitome of the man.

“Football gives meaning to your life.”

That is how Eric Cantona started his essay “What Is the Meaning of Life?” for The Player’s Tribune last year. He’s a man who lives life by his own rules but not without care and consideration.

I won’t reveal exactly what Cantona says as that will obviously spoil it and remove the gravity of his piece. But this reminded me of why I watched football in the first place.

“All the time, I get asked the same questions about my career.

‘What was it like playing for those United teams? Why did you do so well?’

People want some kind of complex answer. They want some kind of secret, I think. But the answer is very simple. Sir Alex Ferguson was the master of one thing: Whenever we took the pitch for a match, after hours and hours of work, we were allowed to beĀ free. We felt total freedom to move where we wanted, to play how we wanted.

I could tolerate football no other way.

What is football if it is not about freedom?”

I don’t care for football like I used to. Man United was my #1 team until 2012 when I just stopped caring about club football. But it was managers like Sir Alex Ferguson, players like Cantona, and teams like Manchester United who lifted my spirits until then. And while my footballing fire no longer burns brightly for them, I will never forget the heat.

Read Eric Cantona’s full essay on theplayerstribune.com.

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