Current Value

$ %
Click here for full rankings...

All time Rating

$ %
Click here for full rankings...

Alex Ferguson's heartfelt letter to Eric Cantona

Updated on October 15, 2015

By Mark Lawes, Contributor for Soccerjury

2
1158

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed a heartfelt letter he sent to Manchester United legend Eric Cantona shortly after the Frenchman retired from football.

Cantona is still adored by the Old Trafford faithful and is widely regarded as the catalyst that led to United's domination of the Premier League for twenty years. He won four Premier League titles and the FA cup twice during a five year period, before his shock retirement aged just 30 years old.

Ferguson details in his new book Leading, that Cantona was just one of four world class player he managed during his 26 year tenure at Old Trafford. The former United manager has also printed a letter sent to Cantona weeks after the Frenchman's retired in 1997.

The iconic manager has revealed how he hoped that Cantona would return to training "as normal" during pre-season training, advises him on maintaining his fitness, and touchingly mentions that although the Frenchman is "no longer one of my players, I hope you know you have a friend."

The full letter dated 18 August, 1997 is printed below, and gives a fascinating insight into the psyche of the Premier League's most successful manager of all time.

Alex Ferguson's touching letter to Cantona shortly after the Frenchman retired (Leading, Alex Ferguson)


18 August 1997

Dear Eric,

Some months have passed since we last spoke and I felt that I should write to you as a mark of respect and esteem in which I hold you.

When we re-started training, I kept waiting for you to turn up as normal but I think that was in hope not realism and I knew in your eyes when we met a Mottram your time at Manchester United was over. Although, I still fell you should have taken both your Father's and my advice and taken a holiday before making such a major decision.

One thing, I would like you to remember is to remain active and fit. I always remember when I finished at 32 and I started management, I was more concerned about organising training and he coaching of players that I forgot about my own fitness and then when I realised about six years later what was happening, I started to train again to recapture my fitness and it was murder, so you do need to keep your fitness.

I am sure you have been keeping an eye on our results and as you can see we are doing quite well as you know we have signed Teddy Sheringham to replace you but at the moment he is finding it difficult to find the space he got at Tottenham and is playing deep so we have some adjusting to do. Players sometimes don't realise how difficult it is to play at our level as every game is a Cup Final for our opponents so I just hope he can do it for us.

Our pre-season tour wasn't too bad. The Far East tour was better than expected and our games against Inter Milan were very good. The Charity Shield wasn't a great performance but we were better than Chelsea and deserved to win, even though it went to penalties.

I still feel as we discussed at the end of the season that a top class striker is what is needed and that is always going to be the problem at our club as the financial restraints will always stop us getting the past because of our wage structure and it is such a pity because when you are at at the top you should buy the best to stop the others getting to you. If I was younger, I suppose I would look at it differently, but from a personal point of view, I have not won the European Cup and it does get to me at times. However I just carry on and not put up a mental barrier and I have always had that belief and trust in my players and wish to continue to do so. I keep hoping that i will discover a young Cantona! It is a dream!

As I close this letter, I would like to hope that we will have a chat, a drink, or a meal together soon. I know the club has written to you about the forthcoming dinner and I hope you will manage it, but that is not the most important thing, for it is to remind you how good a player we were for Manchester United and how grateful I am for the service you gave me. I will never forget that and I hope you won't either.

You are always welcome here and if you just pop in unexpectedly for a cup of tea, no fanfare, just for a chat as friends, that would mean more to me than anything. Eric you where I am if you need me and now that you are no longer one of my players, I hope you know you have a friend. 

Good luck and God bless, 

Yours sincerely 

Alex Ferguson CBE

MANAGER

Rate this article: 2 Vote Up Vote Down 0

Current Rating: 6.10

All Comments (2)

User's photo
Kal Kilby

Seems like one of those guys, that if he likes you things are great, but watch out if he doesn't.

September 30 at 10:01pm Reply | Flag

Click to rate: 0 Vote Up Vote Down 0

User's photo
Robbie Ackerman

This shows why Fergie won all the trophies he did. If you have a strong relationship with your players, they'll always produce a little more. Good players perform great. And great players become legends.

September 23 at 11:30pm Reply | Flag

Click to rate: 1 Vote Up Vote Down 0

User's photo
Robbie Ackerman

This shows why Fergie won all the trophies he did. If you have a strong relationship with your players, they'll always produce a little more. Good players perform great. And great players become legends.

September 23 at 11:30pm Reply | Flag

Click to rate: 1 Vote Up Vote Down 0

No comments to display.
Premier League Flashback: Man City 3-2 QPR

Greatest finale ever to an English league season

Article Image
How did Wales become so good?

Tournament outcasts to European heroes

Article Image
Leicester City crowned Champions of England

The fairy-tale is complete

Article Image
Flashback: Keane's Horror Tackle on Haaland

United captain's vengeance

Article Image
The Meteoric Rise of 'little' Leicester City

Relegation fighters to title favourites

Article Image
Why are United struggling?

Analysis of their passing and shooting efficiency versus EPL teams

Article Image
London United XI

A Premier League Dream Team combined from the City's Clubs

Article Image
Faustino Asprilla: Flair, controversy and cult hero status

Signed for Newcastle twenty years ago

Article Image
Top 10 Strikers in World Football Today

Barca forwards dominate inaugural rankings

Article Image
Turbo-charged Liverpool Dismantle City

Red letter day for Anfield Club

Article Image
15/16 European Champions League Draw

Mixed fortunes for English teams

Article Image
Euro 2016 Draw - As it happened

England and Wales to face each other

Article Image
Legendary teams: Hungary 1950-56

The Mighty Magyar's remembered

Article Image
Mourinho: Charting his fall from grace

But does an opportunity exist?

Article Image
Most Astonishing FIFA Rankings Ever

Belgium secure top spot and other ranking surprises

Article Image
Before Sergio There Was Georgi

A tribute to a Man City hero in the club's darkest era

Article Image
Liverpool Sack Manager Brendan Rodgers

Klopp favourite to fill vacant positon

Article Image
How not to stretcher a player from the field!

Comedic scenes in Greek Second Division game

Article Image
Arsene Wenger: Charting the Highs and Lows

Gunners manager enters 20th year at Arsenal

Article Image
Tony Yeboah's Iconic Goal Remembered

Leeds cult hero's wonder strike 20 years ago

Article Image
Are Celtic Too Good for Scotland?

A Hoops fan's verdict to the great debate

Article Image
The day a legend announced himself to the world

Beckham's wonder goal against Wimbledon

Article Image
Clash of the Titans: Ronaldo vs Messi

Who is the greatest player in the world?

Article Image
Why Benteke £32.5m transfer is a huge gamble

Could define Liverpool's future

Article Image
Man Utd 15/16 Home Shirt Launched

Featuring a 300 style launch video

Article Image
Have you seen the Hulk Smash?

Viral videos of Zenit player showcasing his strength

Article Image
Clash of the Titans: Maradona vs Messi

Who is the greatest Argentinian ever?

Article Image
The Greatest England Team of All Time?

The ultimate dream team

Article Image
The Greatest Ever British & Irish XI

Several controversial omissions

Article Image