At an event where Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk were in attendance, who would have thought a 53-year-old man dressed in a crumpled red flannel shirt and flat cap would be the headline act?
Former Manchester United striker Eric Cantona stole the show at Thursday’s Champions League draw with a bemusing speech, during which he quoted Shakespeare and prophesied that humans would become immortal.
The four-time Premier League winner left the audience puzzled with his acceptance speech after receiving the President’s Award in Monaco from UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.
“As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods, they kill us for their sport,” Cantona said.
“Soon the science will not only be able to slow down the ageing of the cells, soon the science will fix the cells to the state and so we will become eternal.
“Only accidents, crimes, wars, will still kill us but unfortunately, crimes, wars, will multiply. I love football. Thank you.”
The footballer-turned-actor slightly misquoted the Earl of Gloucester in the Bard’s “King Lear,” leaving the star-studded crowd in a stunned silence, sharing awkward glances.
The world’s two best players from the past decade had no idea what was going on.
Nor did most of the audience.
Former player turned pundit Gary Linekar, meanwhile, saw it as reassurance for teams drawn in tough groups.
But given Cantona’s previous form for launching into monologues loosely based on football, we shouldn’t be too surprised by this philosophical musing from the Frenchman.
In 1995, after winning his appeal against a two-week prison sentence for kicking an abusive football fan in the chest, he said: “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.”
Whether footballer or philosopher, Eric Cantona never fails to entertain.