The man who agreed to sell Eric Cantona to Manchester United, indadvertedly starting off a Sir Alex Ferguson’s dominance of the English game, has revealed he has no regrets and would do the same again.
Cantona’s trip across the Pennines is now part of United folklore after Leeds called up to enquire about the availability of Denis Irwin and ended up selling us the French maestro.
But Leeds’ managing director at the time Bill Fotherby has lifted the lid on the actual events that led to Cantona joining United, including making the decision without manager Howard Wilkinson giving the go ahead!
“I rang United about Denis Irwin, who had been at Leeds as a young boy, Martin Edwards said there was no chance but I asked him to at least speak to (manager) Alex (Ferguson).
“Normally, I wouldn’t have expected him to ring back. This time he did, offering me a different player I knew Howard would not be interested in.
“It was then he asked about Eric. I said absolutely no way and that it was impossible. But obviously I knew what Howard felt about him, and I knew this additional payment was due. As I had done before, Martin asked if I would talk to Howard.
“On that particular day Howard was out house-hunting in Leeds, so the only person I actually spoke to was (coach) Mick Hennigan. I just said ‘I can’t believe it. Guess what has come right out of the blue. Howard will absolutely love it’.
“I left it a couple of hours, rang Martin back and said ‘I can’t believe this but Howard is willing to let the boy go’.
“Our fans were bothered. They were really bothered. But I would do exactly the same again.”