Eric Cantona: Science will make humans ‘eternal’

Former Manchester United player quoted King Lear in Monaco acceptance speech

Former Manchester United forward Eric Cantona receives the Uefa President’s Award at the Champions League draw in Monaco. Photo: Alexandre Dimou/EPA

Former Manchester United forward Eric Cantona receives the Uefa President’s Award at the Champions League draw in Monaco. Photo: Alexandre Dimou/EPA

 

Given previous form, perhaps it should be no surprise that Eric Cantona has again prompted bafflement with a philosophical monologue loosely based on football. The player-turned-actor elicited furrowed brows from the audience at the Champions League draw with a brief but wide-ranging speech that alluded to science, immortality and war.

Channelling the spirit of 1995, the year he delivered his famous “when the seagulls follow the trawler” speech, the Frenchman kicked off with a quote from King Lear as he accepted the Uefa president’s award on stage at the ceremony in Monaco.

Members of the star-studded audience, which included Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, appeared dumbfounded as the former Manchester United forward went on to assert that that advancement of science was close to making humans immortal.

“As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods, they kill us for their sport,” Cantona said, quoting King Lear. “Soon the science will not only be able to slow down the ageing of the cells, soon the science will fix the cells to the state and so we will become eternal.

“Only accidents, crimes, wars, will still kill us but unfortunately, crimes, wars, will multiply. I love football. Thank you.”

In 1995, Cantona sparked furious debate as to his meaning when he appeared at a press conference after he won his appeal against a prison sentence for his kung-fu kick on an abusive Crystal Palace fan at Selhurst Park to say just one line: “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.”

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin said the decision to give the award to the “iconic” Cantona, who apparently eschewed the dress code of the night by wearing a crumpled red flannel shirt and flat cap, was an easy one.

“This is a logical choice because this award not only recognises his career as a player of the highest calibre but also honours him for the person he is: a man who refuses compromise, a man who stands up for his values, who speaks his mind and in particular who puts his heart and soul into supporting the causes he believes in.” – Guardian

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