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Eric Cantona Says His Only Regret Is Not Kicking Crystal Palace Fan Harder

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Eric Cantona Says His Only Regret Is Not Kicking Crystal Palace Fan Harder

Manchester United legend Eric Cantona has said his only career regret is not kicking Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmonds "even harder" despite his nine-month ban in the aftermath.

The shocking incident occurred 26 years ago when Cantona was sent off at Selhurst Park. Goaded by the Palace supporter as he left the pitch, the volatile French striker launched into a spectacular kung-fu kick at Simmonds.

The end result was a lengthy ban from the FA, but - true to form - Cantona has said in a new interview that he'd have loved to have gone in even harder.

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"I have been insulted thousands of times and have never reacted, but sometimes you are fragile," said Cantona, per Mail Online.

"I have one regret. I would have loved to have kicked him even harder. I was banned for nine months. They wanted me to be an example."

Simmons was alleged to have provoked the hot-tempered Man United No 7 by saying: "F**k off back to France, you French b*****d."

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Although the Palace fan claimed his words were actually: "It's an early bath for you, Mr Cantona!" We'll leave you to judge which is more believable.

Cantona's comments appear in a new film, 'The United Way' that he narrates and has co-written.

The 54-year-old also goes into detail on how he almost quit the club the following summer after he was found to have breached his suspension by playing in a behind-closed-doors friendly. However manager Alex Ferguson travelled to France and talked him into staying.

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"It was just a friendly game, but the journalist was on top of a tree outside and he took a picture," said Cantona, whose transfer from Leeds United to Old Trafford in 1992 sparked Manchester United's early dominance of the Premier League.

"Unfortunately he didn't fall. The next day it was in the paper and the FA wanted to ban me even more.

"The manager found the right words like always. And I loved him and respected him. Like a father.

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"When a manager does something like this to his player, the player will give his life to the manager, to the club and to the fans.

"They were all behind me. Some clubs maybe would have sacked me but Manchester United offered me a new contract. That's the difference between Manchester United and the other ones."

Cantona played two more years at United - winning two more Premier League titles - before he did actually retire at the age of just 31.

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The United Way airs on Sky Documentaries and NOW on 24 May at 9pm and is also available on Blu-ray, DVD and download-to-own on 10 May

All imagery: PA Images

Topics: Manchester United, Premier League, Eric Cantona

Alex Reid
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