Football

Lee Sharpe's Account Of Alex Ferguson's Reaction To Cantona's Kung-Fu Kick Is Amazing

Lee Sharpe's Account Of Alex Ferguson's Reaction To Cantona's Kung-Fu Kick Is Amazing

It remains one of the standout moments of English football.

Almost 23 years ago, after being sent off for Manchester United in an away tie against Crystal Palace, Eric Cantona responded to xenophobic comments from a fan in the most staggering manner.

While the Frenchman would serve a lengthy nine month ban from football generally for his actions, the stories that his 'kung fu kick' would generate will last a lifetime.

One of Cantona's teammates that day was Lee Sharpe. Now working the after-dinner speaking circuit, the three-time Premier League winner remembers that night in Selhurst Park vividly.

Along with Cantona's sending off, United had under-performed and only managed to secure a 1-1 draw against Palace.

In ordinary circumstances, such a result was like a red rag to a bull for Ferguson; his players would feel his wrath in the dressing room afterwards.

Understandably though, Sharpe and his teammates were not so worried this time around:

There's no way in a million years the gaffer can bollock us for playing shit after [Cantona's] just done that.

Generally, with a poor result away from home, [Brian] Robson would say, 'Right lads, lap of honour, we'll give the manager five minutes to get a cup of tea, take a breath.'

Not this time.

Rushing back to the dressing room as quick as they possibly could, Sharpe recalls all the players being extremely keen to see just what Ferguson would say to their enigmatic teammate, Cantona.

Waiting anxiously, Ferguson's mood when he finally appeared was just as expected:

The door is smashed off the back of its hinges, the jacket is [thrown] off, the shirt sleeves are up, he has steam coming out of his ears, froth at the corners of his mouth and his scarlet face on.

There are benches in the middle of the room ... plates of sandwiches, pots of tea and coffee; they're fucking flying everywhere.

And then he starts; 'Fucking Pallister, you can't fucking head it, you can't tackle. Incey, you've not laid a glove on anybody, where the fuck have you been? Sharpey, my grandmother is quicker than you. Sparkey, you can't trap a bag of cement. It's a fucking disgrace.

Finally turning his attention toward Cantona, Sharpe vividly recalls the moment they had all been waiting for.

Turning to the player who would not play for the club again until the following season, Ferguson simply put it:

'And Eric, you can't go around doing things like that son.'

Known for treating Cantona a little differently from his other players, you can watch Sharpe's full recollection of events below.

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Arthur James O'Dea

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