30 years since Eric Cantona signed for Man Utd from Leeds United in November 1992

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An hour later, Fotherby returned Edwards’s call
and the deal was swiftly agreed. The transfer
was completed after lunchtime the following
day, and the striker was unveiled at a hastily
scheduled Old Trafford press conference.

‘Manchester United manager Ferguson
could hardly disguise his delight as he
paraded Cantona, his dramatic £1.2 million
capture from Leeds, at Old Trafford today,’
described the Press Association’s Rob King.
‘Despite Ferguson’s thick Glaswegian tones
and Frenchman Cantona’s halting English,
the smiles on both men’s faces needed no
interpreter as they met the media. Elland Road
fans are in mourning at the loss of their French
favourite; Old Trafford is cock-a-hoop at the
audacity of the cross-Pennine raid.’

“He has the style, skill and arrogance which
will delight our supporters,” beamed Edwards.
“The signing represents a coup for Manchester
United and their supporters. There are not
many names in the English game that set pulses
racing, but Eric is certainly in that category.”
An equally delighted Ferguson assured
reporters: “He’s joining a big club with a big
staff and he will play in front of the biggest
crowds.

“It is well known in the game that I only
sign players who are keen to join my club.
I was delighted, therefore, that Eric did not
hesitate nor did he wish to talk to anybody
else. Nor did he try to bounce any other clubs’
names off against ours. He was as keen to
sign for us as we were to obtain his signature.
It is all made for Eric and we feel sure he will
thoroughly enjoy the United style of play.
I always talk to my staff before signing
players and I can assure you nobody
attempted to cast doubt on this one.”

Over at Elland Road, Wilkinson
remained confident that he had done
the right thing. “I can tell all the fans
that what happened was in the best
interests of Leeds United,” he said.
“I hope that people don’t allow
themselves to be whipped up
and forced into doing and
saying silly things.”
Leeds season-ticket holder
Lawrence Gordon tended to
disagree.

“There are going to
be riots at Elland Road over
this,” he warned French news
agency AFP. “People have
paid for their season tickets
and they are going to want
their money back. He was
the one everyone paid
their money to see. I can’t
believe Howard Wilkinson
would sell him, especially
to Manchester United.”

The whirlwind nature of the deal was
precipitated by United just missing the
deadline to register Cantona for the
following day’s Premier League trip
to Arsenal, then jetting out to
Portugal immediately after
the game to meet Benfica in
a match arranged to celebrate
Eusebio’s 50th birthday.
“Cantona watched
from the stands while his
new Manchester United
colleagues did all they could
to make him know that at Old
Trafford, as at Elland Road,
his first-team place may not
be guaranteed,” noted The
Independent’s Norman Fox,
as Mark Hughes’s solitary
goal at Highbury gave the
visitors a richly deserved
and impressive away win.

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