Eric Cantona baffles audience with bizarre speech during Champions League draw ceremony
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Eric Cantona baffles audience with bizarre speech during Champions League draw ceremony

'WHEN the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea' ... now, if you thought that classic Cantona-ism from 1995 was weird, he's just about managed to rival it with his latest nonsensical (or genius, depending on your view) rambling monologue.

Last night during the UEFA Champions League draw - which for some reason has its own ceremony filled with as much grandeur and pomp as the Oscars - notorious poet and philosopher Eric Cantona, who just so happens to also be good at football, was invited to the stage to receive the 2019 UEFA President's Award, which is awarded to football personalities who are seen to have advanced the game's development and success.

Standing there next to a couple of tuxedo-wearing UEFA-ites who would make Bond look a little scruffy, Cantona, in his flat-cap, creased shirt and baggy jeans was asked: "What's going on through your mind right now?"

Well ...

"As flies to wanton boys we are for the gods, they kill us for their sport.

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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."

The Frenchman is no stranger to stunning audiences, just ask the Sunderland fans who travelled to Old Trafford in December '96, but this was different. The 'thank you' at the end was the only thing that managed to suck everyone in the room back into the moment, after being temporarily lost in a time vortex filled with nothing but Kronenbourg  and up-turned collars. 'Oh right, we're supposed to clap now' read the faces of every slack-jawed, raised-eyebrowed member of the audience, including Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, whom the camera regrettably panned to mid-way through King Eric's proclamation.

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As always, Cantona wants this to be left to interpretation. One thought is that he's contemplating the constant and inevitable suffering in the world and how football can, in a way, drag you out of that and be a consistent source of pleasure.

Another is that while trying to quote Shakespeare's King Lear, he forgot his lines and went home early with the catchphrase of a 6-year-old he had a kick-around with at the park the other day.

Whatever the explanation, Cantona is nothing if not an entertainer.