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Dion Dublin: If it wasn’t for me, Manchester United would not have signed Eric Cantona

Sunday 26th November 2017 was the 25th anniversary of Eric Cantona leaving Leeds United and signing for Manchester United. The prolific Frenchman cost just £1.2 million, a steal. Leeds chairman Bill Fotherby had telephoned United chairman Martin Edwards to see if he could sign Denis Irwin from the Old Trafford club but Edwards was in the middle of a meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson at the time, with both Ferguson and Edwards declaring that Irwin was not for sale. United

United were seeking a new striker with Dion Dublin breaking his leg and the club failing to sign David Hirst, Matt Le Tissier, and Brian Deane, Cantona was now a man United were chasing. The deal was done within a few days with the Frenchman signing for United on the 26th November 1992. Dublin’s career as United was near enough done before it really took off, playing his last game on the 8th May 1994. This was a shame as injury was the main thing which ended his United career, Cantona’s form being the other.

Dublin, aged 25 at the time of his departure from the Theatre of Dreams, had made 17 appearances, six of them starts, scoring just three goals. Cantona left the club at the end of the 1996/97 season, playing 185 times, one appearance off the bench, scoring 82 goals for the club. Dublin has given his take on a few things from Cantona, naming the best player he had played with from his time at the club, also talking about the famous Class of 92. Dion Dublin, speaking exclusively to 888Sport, was asked a series of questions, his responses being:

Did you ever get to play with Cantona (even in training) and just how good was he?

“Eric Cantona was very unique in the way that he played the game. I think he saw the game differently to most people. He was fearless towards any other human being and he was fearless towards failure so he tried all sorts. He was outstanding.

“When I broke my leg Manchester United had to find somebody of a very, very high standing to take my place so they turned to Eric Cantona (laughs). He didn’t just fill my boots; he took it to the next level and he was brilliant. I do consider myself the catalyst to Manchester United’s success because if it wasn’t for me they wouldn’t have signed Eric Cantona. They don’t have to thank me though, it’s fine.”

Who was the best player you played within your time at Manchester United?

“Bryan Robson. Next question. No problem in choosing that one at all.”

You were there when the class of ’92 were coming through. Did any of them stand out particularly?

“They all had their tick-box list and they all did exactly as they were supposed to do. They didn’t complicate things which is one of the clever things about the Class of 92. Gary Neville defended very, very well. He was vocal and confident. David Beckham…I’ve never known anyone to strike a ball like he did. He put it where you said. As for Giggsy he was one of the quickest I’ve ever seen whilst running with the ball and keeping it under control then having an end product. And Paul Scholes, well, say no more.”

Did anyone think that Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs would go on to achieve everything that they have?

“I think they did. Ryan Giggs would possibly be in the top three of players I’ve ever played with because of his achievements, and his longevity, and his craft and professionalism. I always knew Giggs would do well. Always, always. And Scholesy, well his nickname is SatNav because he knows where everybody is. At any given time in a game Scholesy would be able to find you with a pass. Left, right foot, he wouldn’t talk about, he’d just do it: he was that good.”

Dublin may not be a player to have won the lot at the Theatre of Dreams like many before and after him, but he still has a place in the history of the club, his injury being one of the many factors for Cantona being a United player, and that telephone call from Bill Fotherby, which was just as important.

Read the full 888Sport interview with Dublin, including his thoughts on the class of ’92.

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