Andy Cole has revealed Sir Alex Ferguson did NOT subject Eric Cantona to the infamous ‘hairdryer’ treatment after his kung-fu kick at Selhurst Park.
Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons had antagonised the Manchester United striker at Selhurst Park, who then proceeded to produce one of the most extraordinary events in English football.
On January 25 1995, after being sent off in a league game at Crystal Palace, Cantona stunned the football world by assaulting a supporter as he walked off the pitch.
It later emerged that supporter has yelled, ‘f*** off back to France you French mother*****,’ and Cantona was then widely praised for trying to literally kick racism out of football.
Cantona, who scored 82 goals and won four league titles and two doubles with the Red Devils, even said it was his favourite moment in a United shirt.
“My best moment? I have a lot of good moments but the one I prefer is when I kicked the hooligan,” the Old Trafford icon once said.
Speaking on the Sunday Session, Cole remembers how surreal the situation was for a player in that moment.
He said: “I hadn’t long joined from Newcastle, so I’m only a few games into my Manchester United career then.
“When it did happen, I wasn’t even sure what was going on if I am being brutally honest.
“I was kind of in the middle of the pitch, but I wasn’t sure if a punter ran on and started on Eric or Eric did what he did.
“When it all unfolded and everyone started running over to the touchline, I was kind of miffed as to what had gone on.
“I didn’t see the incident properly until I saw the incident on TV and that’s when I said to myself, ‘wow’.
“It was surreal.”
Ferguson, who was renowned for his fiery temper and competitive nature, but stunned the entire Manchester United squad when he simply asked Cantona what had happened.
“I’m not going to lie, Eric is possibly one of the calmest people I have ever been in a dressing room with,” he added.
“He didn’t really say a lot, but Eric had an unbelievable presence and didn’t have to say too much.
“He had a big barrel chest and broad shoulders, Eric didn’t really say anything. He just sat down in the dressing room and that was it.
“Naturally, I don’t know what was going through his mind at that moment in time. Only Eric will know what was going through his mind, but I remember when we all came into the dressing room after the game and everyone was naturally shocked.
“Some of the boys were saying, ‘the gaffer is going to lose it now’. This for me, to this day, I still laugh to myself.
“I remember the gaffer came in and he was absolutely fuming, the game ended 1-1. We dropped two points, didn’t win the game and he is fuming.
“He started to have a barney at a few people and then he said to Eric, ‘what are you thinking? You can’t go round doing things like that’.
“Everyone sat in there in the dressing room and just went, ‘Nah’.”