Richard Shaw still has nothing but admiration for Eric Cantona.
January 25, 1995 will always be remembered for the Frenchman’s kung-fu kick at a fan at Crystal Palace, but Shaw still hails the Manchester United legend as “the signing of the century”.
It was a foul by the France star on Shaw which sparked the events that stunned the world.
“As a fellow pro, I have the utmost respect for him.” said the former Palace defender. “He was a genius.
“I don’t think of his foul on me that got him sent off. It was just one of those things. What happened with the fan could have happened with any player, but obviously because it was Eric more was made of it.
Listen — Jonathan Pearce’s commentary as Cantona kicks his way into history:
“But I don’t think most right-minded people have that as their enduring image of him. They remember his goals, his genius, his influence on the game.
“I think of Eric and I think of his chip against Sunderland and his goal celebration as he just stands there, looking around.
“And I think of his FA Cup final-winning goal against Liverpool — off-balance, through a crowd of players. I think of his one-touch, two-touch play.
“I wonder how he never won more caps for France. I think of what he did in terms of bringing through those outstanding young players for United and English football.
“For £1.2million he has to have been the signing of the century for Sir Alex Ferguson.”
Shaw went on: “I coach the kids at Crystal Palace and you tell them about the kind of player Cantona was.
“He set the benchmark and was the catalyst for the period of winning trophies at Old Trafford.
“But that whole United team was outstanding. That and the Arsenal side of 1997 were the two best I played against.”