Football

Sir Alex Ferguson almost didn't sign Eric Cantona

Cantona playing for Manchester United. (©GettyImages)
Cantona playing for Manchester United. (©GettyImages).

Only a timely phone call inspired Sir Alex Ferguson to stop chasing Peter Beardsley and to sign Eric Cantona instead, reports the Daily Mail.

With Dion Dublin suffering a broken leg in late 1992, Ferguson was on the hunt for a replacement striker.

The former Manchester United manager revealed he originally wanted chairman Martin Edwards to sign the then-Everton player Beardsley.

Ferguson had originally tried to sign the Newcastle legend in 1987 but baulked at the Magpie's £3m asking price. But with Beardsley not getting in to the Everton side, he asked Edwards to make an approach.

But during the original conversation in which Ferguson announced his desires, Leeds chairman Bill Fotherby called to ask about the availability of Dennis Irwin.

A lightbulb went up and Ferguson told the chairman to ask about the availability of Cantona.

Fotherby needed just half an hour to make a decision and agreed to sell the Frenchman for £1m - one of football's greatest bargains.

Speaking during the London leg of his book tour, the Old Trafford legend said: "Dion Dublin broke his leg against Palace.

"So we started scouring about trying to get someone in.

"Peter Beardsley wasn’t really playing for Everton at the time so I went to Martin Edwards’ office and said, 'Why don’t we try to sign Peter Beardsley?'.

"When I was in there the phone went, it was Bill Fotherby from Leeds asking if we’d sell Dennis Irwin.

"During the call I wrote Cantona’s name on his pad.

"They said they would come back to us in half an hour. Half an hour to discuss a player like Cantona? Something like that should have taken five days.

"I knew there was something up and they came back to us and said they’d sell him for £1million.

"We signed him the next day."

Cantona went on to become a cult hero at Old Trafford and kick started Manchester United's Premier League dominance.

During his time with the club he won four Premier League trophies and three FA Cups.

His name is still instilled in Old Trafford folklore.

Topics:
Football
Premier League
Manchester United
Peter Beardsley
Eric Cantona

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