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The legendary story of Alex Ferguson's dressing room reaction to Eric Cantona's kung-fu kick

Give Me Sport logo Give Me Sport 25/01/2023 Rob Hoskin
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It’s been 28 years since one of the craziest moments in Premier League history – Eric Cantona kung-fu kicked a Crystal Palace fan during a Manchester United match.

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After getting abused by Palace fan, Matthew Simmonds, in the middle of a match, Cantona lost his head and jumped into the crowd to attack the supporter.

It earned him a nine-month ban from the FA.

The match actually ended 1-1 at Selhurst Park.

David May had given United the lead in the second half but Palace equalised through Gareth Southgate with 10 minutes remaining.

Can you imagine how Sir Alex Ferguson reacted in the dressing room after the match?

Not only had he watched his side drop two points but he’d witnessed his star man do something that will see him banned for a very long time.

What on earth could he possibly say?

Well, thanks to Lee Sharpe, we don’t have to imagine.

That’s because the former United player has a legendary story of exactly what happened in that dressing room after the match.

VIDEO: Lee Sharpe’s epic story of how Fergie reacted after Cantona’s kick

“The manager comes in and he’s absolutely fuming,” Sharpe said. “The door smashes off the back of its hinges. The jacket is off, he’s got the short sleeves rolled up; steam coming out of his ears and frothing at the mouth.

“There’s benches in the middle of the room with shirts and balls to be signed. Cups of tea and plates of sandwiches. They’re sent f****** flying everywhere.

“We’re getting scalded and getting egg sandwiches down the back of our necks. We look at each other, thinking, ‘F****** hell, Cantona is getting it here!’

“And then he starts, the manager. ‘F****** Pallister, you can’t head anything, you can’t tackle. Incey, where the f*** have you been? Sharpey, my grandmother runs f****** faster than you! … You’re all a f****** disgrace.

“Nine o’clock, tomorrow morning, I’m going to run your f****** balls off in training. F****** shocking. And Eric…. [in a softer tone] you can’t go round doing things like that son’.”

PALACE V MAN U © Provided by Give Me Sport PALACE V MAN U


But is it true?

The epic story has been dismissed by some quarters but United’s goalscorer that day, May, has a very similar version of events.

“The manager is ripping heads off everyone…,” May said. “Big Pete (Schmeichel), Big Pally, myself, Sharpey, Paul Ince. He had a go at me for their equaliser. He said, ‘who the hell was marking Southgate?’. I said ‘Eric’.

“He turned round and said ‘Eric, I am disappointed in you. You can’t be doing those things’. I thought ‘Is that it? Is that it?!’ Any other player would have been given the hairdryer. I just got the hairdryer off the gaffer for not marking someone I shouldn’t have been marking.”

Fergie clearly cared more about winning that day than he did Cantona’s actions…

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(Football Terrace)


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