UTD Unscripted with Quinton Fortune: My Memory Lane


Right near where the away fans used to be, I stood there as a 14-year-old schoolboy. I’d come over from South Africa and was on Tottenham’s books, and I’d sit there to watch their home games. I’ll never forget the first time I saw United play there. It was in 1992, the game when Giggsy nutmegged one Spurs defender, went around another, went around the goalkeeper and scored a great goal.

The next season when United came back, I was there again. This time I had one of the best experiences of my life and also probably my biggest regret.

I always carried a tennis ball with me so that I could kick it around. On matchdays at White Hart Lane, I’d go into the away dressing room to clean up with the other schoolboys and each time I’d get the ball out and we’d be kicking it around. This happened through the years I was at Spurs and in all those years, one player came over to kick the ball with us.


Eric Cantona.

It was just for a few seconds, but it was like something out of a movie. Seriously, I’m sure it was all in slow motion: him walking over, joining in, all the boys looking at each other and going: wooooooooooooow; all of it happened in slow motion.

Now, this is the part that kills me.

I had a camera with me, so I had pictures with Eric, with the boss, with all the United lads afterwards as they were coming out to the team bus. I got home to my digs and immediately went to get the film out of the camera so I could go and get the pictures developed.

There was no film.

Don’t even… I mean, this still kills me now. It’s devastating just to think back to it, so I can’t say I ever really got over it, but I suppose it did soften the blow a little bit that I ended up joining United!

That was in 1999, just after the squad had won the Treble, but you’d never have known it if you’d been there. From the moment I’d first arrived in England, I trained like I knew I had to work harder than everybody else just to make it, so it was normal for me to give everything. When I got to United, though, it stood out that everyone was like that.

This is the team who has just won everything, but the way they were training, there was no sign of that. None of the ‘we’ve just won the Treble’, nothing like that. I couldn’t believe it. I quickly understood: if I want to play here, that’s how I train. That’s how I work. If Roy Keane’s at the front leading, I’ll just keep my head down and work hard and sacrifice for the team, then do my best when the opportunities come. When you see Keaney training like he did, when you see Becks sprinting back to help out Gary Neville defensively, or Giggsy sprinting back, you know that you don’t have a choice. There are no excuses. The best players in the team – some of the best in the world – are running, so I’d better run!


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