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Waiting for Eric in the Big Apple

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Dan Walker | 10:22 UK time, Wednesday, 9 March 2011

I received the following tweet on Saturday: "My gran has just asked why Football Focus are interested in what Zak Dingle thinks."

Eric Cantona's hat and beard combination was obviously enough of a disguise to confuse a few viewers but the interview with the Manchester United legend and now director of football at New York Cosmos caused plenty of interest and controversy nonetheless.

The official website of the Cosmos crashed during the show and by the end of Saturday our Cantona piece was the ninth most tweeted video in the world!

If you missed the show - or you watched it and wanted more - here is the full edit.

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We have had hundreds of positive responses to the interview but it would be remiss of me not to mention that it was not enjoyed by everyone.

Cantona clearly splits opinion and, as I mentioned on Saturday, there are some Crystal Palace fans who link his kung-fu kick in January 1995 to the death of Palace supporter Paul Nixon at the FA Cup semi-final between Manchester United and the London club in April of the same year.

We did consult with Crystal Palace fans before the interview went out but understandably we still had calls from people concerned that we were giving undue publicity to Cantona and his actions. With strong, emotive subjects such as this we always try to provide a balanced account and let viewers make their own individual judgement.

When Cantona raised the subject of the kung-fu kick in the interview and described it as the highlight of his career, I pushed him on the incident and insisted that he must be joking. I also suggested that he should not be encouraging that sort of behaviour. He agreed, concluding that his actions at Selhurst Park were a "mistake".

Clearly, that will not be enough for some Crystal Palace fans, who are understandably sensitive to anything that comes out of Cantona's mouth. I would be interested to know your thoughts after watching the piece but I also wanted to provide some background to the interview itself...

I was in New York for about 18 hours in total, so there was not much time for sightseeing. We spent our first few hours there filming a few links for the opening of the show before making our way to the arranged meeting point in Soho. That did not go according to plan. For a few hours, we were quite literally "Looking for Eric", spending 90 minutes waiting for him in a dimly lit hotel corridor.

Dan Walker waiting for Eric Cantona

The glamour of New York - waiting for Eric in a hotel corridor

When the door to a hotel room eventually opened, we were introduced to Cantona, who was eating an apple, a big apple. The Frenchman then left for 15 minutes while producer Chris Grubb and cameraman Giles Harvey prepared the room for the interview.

I used the time wisely to hoover up some of the very snazzy grub that was on a huge table by huge windows. Normally I have a serious flan aversion but there was a cheeky fruit number that went down particularly well.

Cantona returned, finished off the apple and sat down for our interview. Just before we started, I asked him if he was wearing the hat for the interview. He gave me a Gallic stare, paused and said: "Of course."

I have spoken to him on a few occasions in the past but he seemed far more relaxed this time - and slightly mischievous. I felt like he really made me work hard for the answers and was always trying to take control of the interview. Normally, I have a good idea how people will react but most of his responses came as a surprise.

Cantona knows exactly what he is doing. He knows his job is to get as much publicity for the New York Cosmos as possible, so when he spoke about the kung-fu kick and being a "prisoner of his memories" there was a telling look on his face that said "that's your story there, young man".

There was one point where he stood up and started taking his microphone off. I asked him what he was doing and he said it felt "like a good point to finish". I laughed and asked him to sit down because I had some more questions for him. Thankfully, he agreed.

Once we had really finished, he smiled, stood up, shook hands with everyone and left the room. One of his entourage came back and said that "the biggest compliment I can pay you is that I think he enjoyed that".

I went back for one last slice of flan before we packed up and headed to the airport. I bumped into Cantona again in the lobby, where he was eating yet another apple. I think I might have stumbled upon the source of his footballing powers.

Cantona does seem genuinely passionate about the job in New York and plans to move his family out there next April. I am not convinced he will achieve his plan of making the Cosmos the best team in the world but it certainly will not be dull with him at the helm, that's for sure.

If you have any questions or comments about the blog, the interview or the show then feel free to put them below. If you want to follow the build-up to this week's Focus the best thing to do is track me down at twitter.com/danwalkerbbc

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    An interesting interview, albeit from a figure who is divisive when it comes to opinion on him. I suppose that generally, the more interesting people do provoke that kind of reaction. Albeit, in his case, it's perhaps for two main reasons.

    The first one being about how much his actions that night against Crystal Palace detract from everything else he did, and secondly those people who believe he did not produce the goods against the top sides, and when it really mattered.

    Good work young man.

    Dr Mark Greene

  • Comment number 2.

    A flawed genius but one who knows how to maintain his enigmatic character - unlike the high profile overkill from lesser footballers.

    What he did at Selhurst Park was indefensible but I'm surprised it hadn't happened sooner - everybody has their tipping point. The personal abuse players take cannot be justified either.

    He has a place in premier league history for his footballing skills and talismanic qualities at a huge club and on a young side. Thanks for all the fish Eric

  • Comment number 3.

    Dan, you claim the interview is 26 mins long, however, the player only states a running time of 23.59!!!

    I smell a conspiracy and a cover up. We demand the truth!

    Good interview by the way. Regardless of your views on the man, he's never dull.

    Fox Mulder.

  • Comment number 4.

    Greetings Dan

    Interesting piece and I look forward to watching the clip. However, I was a little concerned about all the talk of fruit (apples, flan, etc). Don't get me wrong I like fruit but maybe try to shoehorn in a bit more talk of savories in future to maintain the staus quo? Great blog though

    "The Model" Rik Martell

  • Comment number 5.

    #3 HMMurdoch

    The truth is out there... you just have to know where to find it. There is a logical explanation for everything. Perhaps your eyes were out of focus when you viewed the video. There's no proof it was a little green man from Mars.

    Dana Scully

    PS. good interview.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hola Dan,

    Thanks for posting the full interview (as requested last week); looking forward to watching it when I'm not at work.

    I'm glad Cantona still has his high aspirations but making NY Cosmos the best side in the world...? The best side in North America would be a good start!

    William Prunier

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    What is genuinely depressing is that an interview with this over-rated and self-regarding individual was hyped beforehand and is still being hyped afterwards. Many measured contributors to your blog have explained in very clear and fair terms why it is questionable why Cantona is being given air-time at all. To continue to hype it after the event (with references to tweeting records and the Cosmos website) seems to be a rather desparate attempt to justify its existence.

    It is true that you have tried to be measured in your reporting of the event. However, it is sad that you appear to be in awe of such a tragically narcissistic character, to the point that you felt it necessary and somehow a minor triumph to report that one of his lackies said he had enjoyed it.

  • Comment number 9.

    Dan,

    Did you really not succumb to either donuts or New York cheesecake whilst you were there? How very disappointing !!

  • Comment number 10.

    #7 7_The_Best

    "Palace fans are just bitter as far as I am concerned... is your horrible little club still around ? on second thoughts who really cares...."

    Your opinion just sums up why fans of most "real" clubs despise people like you.

  • Comment number 11.

    Once again Dan, thank you very much for posting another full interview. It's very much appreciated. Also thanks for posting the Benitez Focus Forum bit last week as well, I didn't know where to find that one until you posted it.

    I have to say I definitely appreciate the effort you're putting in for us in terms of how you try to push the envelope a little in getting us more quality content in your blogs. Some may say it's not that hard to do or is not much of a big deal but, for me, a little can go a long way; plus it's the small things that really count anyway. I hope you continue in this trend of yours wherever it is possible in the future, although it's certainly understandable if you can't do it regularly.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    Afternoon everyone...

    HMMurdoch #3 Incorrect figures! I have called the blog uberfuhrer and he has correctified the situation. Thanks howling mad. Listen to Eric #5

    Saintrider #4 I will try and sort out the sweet / savoury ratio in the future.

    Thereisonlyoneglory #8 The fact of the matter is that getting Cantona is big news. Every broadcaster in the country would love to have secured him because he speaks so infrequently. After getting Cantona, you must understand that we are going to tell people we have him talking because the vast majority of the football watching public want to hear what he has to say.

    There is no ‘desperate attempt to justify its existence’ – I mentioned the website and the video tweeting as evidence of the interest in the interview not to say ‘look at us aren’t we brilliant’.

    I am not in awe of him but – even if you have no time for him – you have to admit he is still a big name in football and that is why the BBC have decided to give the interview prominence.

    I can tell from your comment (particularly the bit about the lackie) that you have an opinion of me and nothing I say will convince you otherwise. I will say that you are imputing motives and reading significance that simply doesn’t exist.

    Big4r_a_bore #9 No time for donuts or cheesecake big man.

    Ibra #11 I’m glad you appreciate the effort big man. All I’m trying to do is do the things I would like to see if I was a viewer rather than the presenter. I’m glad they are going down well with some.

    Thanks again for taking the time to comment on here. Keep them coming and I shall pop back later.

    See you soon.

    Ming The Merciless

  • Comment number 14.

    Just because we are interested in what Cantona has to say, doesn't mean we agree with all of the things that he has done. To take an extreme example, I'm interested in what Mugabe and Ahmadinajad say too, not because I endorse their behaviour, but becasue what they say affects people and the world in general. The fact is that people as unique as Cantona are interesting. Whether this behaviour is an exercise in self aggrandisement or entirely genuine makes no difference.

    Keep up the good work Dan lad,

    Cheers

    Commander Spock?

  • Comment number 15.

    For those, especially 15 year old Man Utd fans living in Sussex who think Cantona was making some sort of heroic stand, who don't know the full story of what happened at Selhurst that night, bear in mind that this incident stirred up a lot of bad blood between CPFC and Man Utd, which escaleted at the FA Cup Semi Final later that season. There has never been trouble between the two clubs but that year Utd fans were itching for a fight and got tem all around Villa Park and the surrounding areas. paul Nixon, a middle aged father of four, was stabbed, hit over the head with a brick and thrown under a coach. Needless to say he did not survive. another Palace fan spent days in a come after having a breeze block over his head. The simple fact is that if Cantona had kept walking that night none of this would have happened.

     

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    # 7_The_Best

    "Palace fans are just bitter as far as I am concerned... is your horrible little club still around ? on second thoughts who really cares...."

    No need for this kind of comment, it is things like this that have caused the problems in the first place. All of which steamed from Eric's actions at Selhurst on that day. I think we can all agree that if it wasnt for that then there would be no where near as much hatred between the clubs.

    And as for us being 'a horrible little club'...why don't you come down to a game or two, see some real battling footballers, who have fought to keep the club alive, not because of how much money they are getting paid, but because they have a real affection and love for the club and the local community that the club has created! I am a firm believer that the Championship is a much more exciting and passionate league than the Premiership, and in particular the top 4 clubs.

  • Comment number 18.

    Sad to say but I think the Paul Nixon incident says more about supposed football fans than Cantona's behaviour.

    As for the target of Eric's kung fu kick the 'fan' in question wasn't sitting in his seat shouting, he was leaning over the advertising hoarding goading the bloke making sure his venomous comments were received with interest. Neither of them was innocent.

  • Comment number 19.

    great interview.
    An awesome former footballer who is more interested in the future than in the past, even though he probably knows his glory years have already gone...
    thanks.

  • Comment number 20.

    #13 Dan, Whilst i hold you high in regard as a presenter and you come across as a Bloody good chap. I think it’s sometimes better to think t$^%*£r and move on. Saying nothing is sometimes louder.
    Keep up the great work :o)

  • Comment number 21.

    #1 - didn't produce the goods against the top sides? Scored in two cup finals and in plenty of crucial league 1-0s. Which top sides are you referring to? I've heard Liverpool fans say that he didn't turn up for big games but nobody else. It's complete rubbish. If he didn't score in the Champions League final it's because he didn't play in one.

    He polarises opinion because he was a United player. That doesn't take a lot of working out.

    Crystal Palace fans link him to the death of Paul Nixon because they're angry, but that doesn't make him responsible. If you follow the trail another step you can say that Simmons guy is ultimately responsible because it was his actions that ignited the whole thing. Nobody would say that so why lay it at Cantona's door?

    His continued existance seems to have annoyed a few posters ... it could be worse, imagine if he bacame a pundit! He'd get on your nerves almost as much as Jamie Redknapp gets on mine.

  • Comment number 22.

    I dont think Eric can be blamed for the tragic death of Paul Nixon, he was an amazing footballer but he didnt have a crystal ball to predict this would happen.

    Also, the only people to blame for this are the people who carried out the murder, nobody else.

  • Comment number 23.

    As both a football fan and a Man U fan I believed that Cantona should never be allowed to play either for United or in UK football generally after that night and still do. However, also as both, there is another side of me that is glad he did, for the pure pleasure of what I watched on the filed.
    Perhaps within that is the dichotomy of the man and what makes an interview with him a must hear event, although in truth much of what he actually says is only interesting for its quirkiness or controversy factor.
    This was a good interview - well done - though I always much preferred to watch him play than hear him speak!

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    It's more than just 'some' Palace fans Dan, I can assure you.

    I think Cantona's justification in your interview crumbles straight away when one considers eactly what he was sent off for that night - an horrific kick-out at an opponent with the ball nowhere near either of them. He then refused to walk off. Not the actions of someone striking out against hooligans on behalf of football fans everywhere.

    Another thing that is often forgotten is that the stand he launched himself into was, at that time, Palace's Family Enclosure.

  • Comment number 26.

    Some very regrettable events referred to by other posts and by Eric himself regarding the kung-fu kick and we should not forget these.
    I did enjoy his comments about the impact of money on ordinary fans which is also the essence of the FC United of Manchester story.
    Their ethos is affordable football and one of their slogans is 'making friends, not millionaires' and these apply to fans of all clubs, not just FCUM.
    He is an intelligent man and worth listening to. He is not perfect.

  • Comment number 27.

    Cantona didn't particularly look comfortable at all. I'm intrigued why he appeared at bitter at the mention of looking in the past in hindsight.

  • Comment number 28.

    Now we are on the subject, Dan, do you BBC pen-pushers (if that is still relevant in this internet age) often swear privately or even long to aim a, err, well-placed kick at some of us who cross the line with our comments about you? For a mild eg, @Comment 8?

  • Comment number 29.

    Agree wholeheartedly with #22

    It's out of line to blame Cantona for what happened to Paul Nixon. People should be held responsible for their own actions and not look for scapegoats. It's akin to computer games or rock music being blamed for violence in society.

    Also remember that Cantona has always stated he doesn't want to be a role model. He shouldn't have to change his behaviour because society says he should. Quite clearly he's his own man and stays true to himself; an admirable quality in my view.

  • Comment number 30.

    Hi Dan,

    I would love to know if Cantona regretted dismissing Didier Deschamps as a mere 'water carrier’. Deschamps won just about every honor in the game and had a far more successful career as a player and now as a manager.

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    Did you ask him why he talked with an Irish accent in the film Sliding Doors?

    I wonder how he can still be a big name in football now. He has lost touch in abig way and almost 15 years is a long time to walk away from football and then make a return. However he obviously has the arrogance to feel he can do that and be a success.

    Ten years ago, I might have said that he could have been a great manager for someone due to his unique character and ego. However, I feel he lacks charm and the game is very dfferent from how it was in 1997.

    There is no doubt however that Cantona was head and shoulders against a mediocre playing field of English football circa 1992-1997. I feel after 1997, he knew his time as the best was up, and his ego couldn't handle the fact that Keane, Giggs, Beckham, Scholes and others were about to enter their prime and become greater players than him.

    I'd even argue that Teddy Sheringham as a replacement was a better player than Cantona

  • Comment number 33.

    31 - I disagree; the reason Cantona should have been banned for life for the incident has nothing to do with the tragic murder that followed, rather if a fan enters the field of play and attacks a player he is banned for life - surely it is reasonable to expect the highly paid protagansists in the middle to suffer at least the same penalty?
    As I stated earlier, I loved him as a player and his comments / antics often made me laugh but that night at Selhurst Park he went way too far, whatever the verbal provocation.

  • Comment number 34.

    Haven`t watched the cllip yet, but it is a very good idea to show unedited(or longer versions of the) interviews. I don`t like Mr Cantona as he is very arrogant and the whole Palace episode was very bad. However he was a very good player.

    As for those who vilify the BBC for this interview...if the BBC were given the chance to interview Mahmoud Ahmedinijad, or Gaddaffi, or even Bin Laden (if he were still alive), then I am sure everyone would want to hear what those unkind gentlemen had to say. Cantona done bad, but he is not in their league, of course.

    I must say that bananas are the best fruit. Closely followed by mandarins.

    Fireman Sam

  • Comment number 35.

    Good blog again Dan.

    One question, now you've met him do you think the enigmatic aura around him comes naturally or is it a carefully constructed persona generated to create intrest and intrigue?

    Regardless I have to agree that when he speaks I'd usually want to hear what he has to say!

    Rod, Jane & Freddie

  • Comment number 36.

    Actually none of those I mentioned are gentlemen. Sorry.

  • Comment number 37.

    Have enjoyed the lengthy interviews with Cantona and Benitez, look forward to similar stuff in the future, cheers.

  • Comment number 38.

    The kick into the stands at Selhurst park was due to Mr Simmonds (standing in the family enclosure) spouting racist remarks and telling Mr Cantona to go fourth and multiply (nice in front of the Kids).

    The incidents after this at Villa Park were in some part due to the fact that Crystal palace FC sold tickets to the semi final to anyone (i was there and i'm a United fan and 18 of us got our tickets at selhurst)

    The bad blood between the sides is nowhere near the bad blood that exists between United and Leeds or Liverpool and never will be.

    Cantona was a legend for United this one incident that other clubs fans use as an excuse to 'hate' Man Utd. was caused by a vile racist...simples.....


    So indirectly, Palace caused the knock on effect by allowing someone into the 'family stand' that could have been avoided. And this in turn could have stopped the Palace fan running in front of the coach whils being chased by (and i use the term loosley) 'United' fans in walsall.

    There were lots of wrongs that night in Selhurst Park, not least Cantona being sent off for stamping (like at Swindon) but without the racist bile spouting from Mr Simmons leaning over the advertising hoardings and shouting abuse at Cantona, then maybe he wouldn't have been kicked...

    Maybe United would have won the title that year...maybe Eric Cantona wouldn't have been banned and maybe the European Cup could have been won the following year.....Lots of what ifs......It's easy to Blame Eric Cantona...I blame Palace for allowing a racist into the family stand.

  • Comment number 39.

    Dan, you are right. I have already formed an opinion about you, and it is a very positive one. I thoroughly enjoy your reports and blogs usually, and I genuinely respect the dignified and creative manner in which you undertake your work.

    The fact that I disagree very strongly with the whole Cantona interview episode does not mean my comments were a personal slight on you either as a journalist or an individual.

    My apologies for any offence caused.

  • Comment number 40.

    It is obvious that he certainly does still divide opinion judging by the comments here. The thing to remember is that veryone who has commented has brought themselves to watch the interview, which speaks volumes about the enigma that is Cantona.

    For the record, I think the BBC are well within their right to interview him, and I believe you've made a good stab at it Dan. However for me he came across as quite dull. He never has been able to give a clear answer which comes across as quirky to some but has never fooled me.

    A brilliant footballer but a pretty childish, often nasty person.

  • Comment number 41.

    Ming The Merciless? A bit weak for you eh Dan.
    Excellent blog by the way, keep up the good work you do for the beeb. I love the style of your blogs (they've even been an inspiration for my son's GCSE coursework!)



    Heikke Kovalinen

  • Comment number 42.

    @Fax Off 606 (comment 38).

    There is no way that anyone other that Simmons knows what he said that night, let alone whether it was racist. Even if you were right about that, how on earth could you suggest CPFC were culpable?

    The 1995 semi-final trouble was all outside of the ground so you ticket comments are invalid. As is your entire post really as you've used the phrase 'simples'.

  • Comment number 43.

    I have never commented on these forums before and just registered so I can make this point. I love Cantona not only for his beautiful football but also because he was an enigmatic and interesting character something that is generally uncommon in the modern game.

    However there is never really an excuse for instigating physical violence and also it is well known that violence breeds violence... I do not believe that there is 'blood on Eric's' hands however he should have shown more sense and maturity as a professional and a public figure. Everybody makes mistakes though...

  • Comment number 44.

    Still the King
    Still the coolest man south of the north pole.

  • Comment number 45.

    Really, why are people debating a split-second moment? The fan he kicked is and was an arse who most of us, had we met, would've considered smacking. Most of us (I hope) would not have.

    However, most of us also lack the passion, determination, and verve to play professional sport.

    Sometimes the passion and dedication, the love of the green of the field (I'm comin' back to that in a moment), as always where humans dwell, mingle with sheer ugliness. Human beings are always as ugly as they are beautiful.

    It is wrong, however, to ignore the ugliness and laud only the beauty; it is also wrong to only see the ugliness and never the beauty.

    Cantona played the game magnificently. His touch, his finishing, his movement - poetry with body and ball. The way the man walked spoke everything you needed to know, a warning to every player he faced in just the same way that Ali warned every man he faced.

    Yes, he made a mistake, which he has on numerous occasions called a mistake.

    But if we ostracize those who make mistakes, we never get the oppurtunity to learn why they made them.

    Backwards and slightly to one side - "the green of the field" is borrowed from something another flawed but beautiful player said. Zinedine Zidane, quoted in particular in a movie I adored on the iPlayer (Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait - if you love the game, go watch it), stated that (before he retired, obviously) when he retired, he would miss the green of the field. Felt that encompassed everything about football beautifully, in it's own way.

    That movie, by the way, is very worth a watch. Zidane, too, was a magnificent player, but watching him play he seems beautifully fragile, isolated, alone.

    I wish more movies of this sort were made with focus on a single player, a single game, whether good or bad; it would bring a greater understanding of how those we watch week in and week out really feel.

    Rather than emotional howlings of ignorant spectators, tribal rants issued only for the colour of the shirt they favour, that is.

  • Comment number 46.

    #17 Londonginge

    I have not got a problem with any small clubs, I have watched a few in my time. I watched Cardiff a good few times back when they were in division 3 as I lived close. I do not even have a problem with Palace, it is some of their small minded fans I have a problem with.

    Of all the different events that lead up to that guys death (RIP no one should die because of football) people have decided to just pick out the one event they can blame on the king and act as if that is the sole event which caused it...

    Why not blame Simmons (spit) for the original crime ?

    Why not blame the F.A for the excessive punishment ?

    Why not blame knife culture ?

    Why not blame hooligan culture ?

    Why not blame aggressive music and lyrics ?

    Computer games!! (evil)

    You could probably apportion a little blame to each of these things (well except the music and games that is laughable) but the ones who are to blame are the idiots who stabbed him. You people blaming Eric are reprehensible, people are responsible for their own bloody actions you people who go around excusing everyone and apportioning blame to unrelated people are more responsible for this crime than Eric himself.

    Take responsibility for your own actions...

    Actually lets all live in this world where every slightly related contributing factor means those people share responsibility. In this world Eric is responsible for this mans death... as are Palace fans, as are Mr Simmons, as are Man Utd fans, as are the F.A, as are anyone who contributed to knife culture, as are anyone who contributed to hooligan culture, as are anyone who produced violent entertainment, as are anyone who supported violent entertainment by purchasing it.

    So there you go Crystal Palace fans everyone (almost) is responsible for the death that is apart from the people who stabbed him they obviously were just guided by the evil Eric they were sweethearts prior to the event!

  • Comment number 47.

    Higher, higher, higher, lower, i said LOWER. Perfect, that's exactly where I want my fence, that will those damn terrapins out.

    Just to clear up, it was never about custard, and never will be.

    Dan why did the chicken cross the road? There was a perfectly good bridge but a 100 yards and he was setting a terrible example for all the little chicks. Disgraceful behaviour.

    Brian blessed

  • Comment number 48.

    Andy Connor...You are fast becoming a hero of mine.

    Dan Walker...Good blog once again, I love Cantona. He was a genius on the pitch. Fruit flan...lovely! Many people (former teammates) say Cantona had an aura about him when he walked in the room, people stopped. Is this something you felt?

    Keep up the good work!

    Garth Crooks

  • Comment number 49.

    Dan,
    From my perspective as a neutral observer I thought you and the crew produced a great interview. I don't want to blow your trumpet too much, or too loudly, but... you are accumulating a large journalists' "portfolio" (if that is the right word) that is full of good material and has some reports / articles that are real gems. Straight away several reports spring to mind, such as: the Bradford fire, S.A. orphanage, 1st Raffa interview and now this interview. From my perspective, far away in CT, it looks as if hard work IS reaping the deserved reward. That is a blessing which human endeavor alone cannot guarantee.
    As far as the interview went I laughed at some points. Early on in the interview you asked EC what his involvement in the Cosmos was, and he answered,"Umm sports....football ... from the 7yr olds..." Well that's an informative answer thank you Eric. Also bit amused by his champagne socialism- its ok for the players to be paid huge salaries and transfer fees to be the size of Togo GDP, but you have to look after the poor people and care for them. Also rather good of him to contribute to the dreams and stress management of the working masses with the Kung fu kick.

    The guy is worth every penny of the travel costs and production costs that the Beeb spent.
    I'D LOVE TO SEE A SIMILAR INTERVIEW WITH LINEKER, HANSEN, PLATINI, OR SUCH LIKE.

  • Comment number 50.

    Great work, Dan, and thanks for putting it on in full. This was compelling viewing due to Cantona's reputation as a footballer, the rarity of his interviews, and the fact that he does not come out with the usual tedious cliches. I would agree with #49 that more of these in-depth interviews would be good on focus, but please not with Hansen...if it ended up like MOTD he WOULD just give the usual soundbites: "terrible" or "sensational", but said confidently to hide the fact that he has just strolled in from the golf course and not done a scrap of research...
    Someone who's got something to say, and says it in an interesting way - Zidane would be great, Maradona controversial, Andy Connor would be best of all!
    Are you honestly saying that the trip was characterised by flan/fruit? To go all the way to NY and not gorge yourself on donuts would be disappointing...

  • Comment number 51.

    WHY IS THE BBC STILL WASTING SPACE ON A HAS-BEEN

  • Comment number 52.

    Thanks for the interview, Dan. Your comments in the preamble about "trying to take control" were interesting. Interviewing can be a mixed bag, especially when the interviewee goes off track, interrupts, and then readily disagrees!

    As a football fan living in the States, I would say Eric has his work cut out. It's been commented upon many times before, but the collegiate pathway to becoming a professional athlete here is very different to the European model. For this reason the emergence of academies is noteworthy, although I don't know the extent to which clubs/franchises can sidestep the college draft and recruit directly from the youth teams. I wonder if a big regulatory battle lies ahead because most players play National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) competitions before hitting the big time, and there are also specific rules about college practice time (e.g. the amount permissible) to safeguard players' wellbeing.

    It makes sense for franchises to reach out to local communities for developmental and promotional purposes. But will academies lead to conflict with college programs and/or contradictory rules? Just a thought.

  • Comment number 53.

    To say that this guy was a poor excuse for a decent human being would be overly generous.
    A self-obsessed, self-serving egotist whose whole attitude to life is a prime example of all that is wrong with today's society.
    He may have been a leader for mancester's youngsters on the pitch but some of them such as scholes and giggs should have given him lessons in decency and humility.

  • Comment number 54.

    Thanks very much for your comments on the blog this week. I know Mr Cantona has stirred up some strong emotions but it's great you've taking the time to share yours. That's what these blogs are all about.

    Just wanted to say in repsonse to #39 thereisonlyoneglory thanks for coming back. I'm glad you see where I am trying to come from and I can assure you no offence has been taken.

    Some good advice from neiljwhitehouse as well which I might take on board in the future!

    Welcome to those first time commenters as well. See you alll tomorrow at 12:15

    We've got an FA cup preview, Keown at Reading, Pulis, Savage on Birmingham, goals, Lee Bradbury at Bournemouth and we'll discover how Chester are coming back from going out of business. Auf wiedersehen.

    Jack Wilshere

  • Comment number 55.

    Dear Dan,

    I know this is not entirely relevant to this particular blog post, but please please please stop using shaky-cam on Friday Focus. This week, it looks as if yourself and Garth Crooks are aboard a tugboat. I know you're trying to make it less formal, but if I'm sitting in the pub having a chat with mates, I'm not constantly bouncing around on my chair. It just looks silly.

  • Comment number 56.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 57.

    Does anyone else think that Dan Walker's ego is too big for him to be an interviewer?

    Where are the young John Motson's?

  • Comment number 58.

    Chrisb1985 #57

    I don't know what you wrote for 57 but I'm guessing it was far from complimentary.

    If that is your honest opinion I'll admit it saddens me a little. It is never my intention to come across like that because I find that an attractive quality in others.

    Have a good one.

    Enid Blyton

  • Comment number 59.

    I meant #56 of course.

    Number issues!

    Ken Dodd

  • Comment number 60.

    I think it is well over the top to blame Cantona for Paul Nixon's death. However, he surely knows what happened and that it was directly or indirectly linked to his actions. Fair enough he's not liable, but to not show any remorse for what his actions led to, i think shows such arrogance, and such a lack of empathy. I loved Cantona before I learnt what actually happened, but my opinion changed pretty quickly when i did. Fair enough to Focus to get the interview, the drama he creates is one of the reasons why we all watch football. He adds to the entertainment factor clearly, and creates discussion and debate, as we can see above. But i think he should know that to say what he has about those incidents is not on.

  • Comment number 61.

    Absolute legend!

  • Comment number 62.

    Dan, why feed the trolls? I watch footy focus (have done for around 30yrs) and as a presenter you're perfectly fine. Adrian Chiles has that mildly grumpy thing going on, Des Lynam had a bit of Leslie Phillips about him. You...nobody is going to say "that Dan Walker, he's a bit different" but that's fine because you're not presenting "The Dan Walker Show." To suggest that you have a bit of an ego....he was clutching at straws and grabbed the wrong one because it is nonsense. Your willingness to engage with the bloke on the street (even the trolls) on this site is further proof that he was talking out of his a.....

  • Comment number 63.

    Cheeseisthedevilswork #62

    It's always good to engage - even if people think you're a clown.

    Thanks for your kind words but I don't think I'll be putting 'perfectly fine' on my CV if that's ok ;)

    See you soon

    Des Lynam

 

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