Loaned by Bordeaux to Manchester United for three whole months, William Prunier isn’t exactly the first name that springs to mind when you ask people to name former French centre-backs who played at Old Trafford.
The now 51-year-old only played twice under Sir Alex Ferguson in the Premier League, against QPR (2-1 win) and against Tottenham (4-1) loss, yet it’s an experience he’ll never forget, reunited with Eric Cantona, whom he knew from their time together at Auxerre a few years prior.
Le Parisien met with the former defender ahead of Manchester United’s Champions League fixture with Paris Saint-Germain at the weekend to find out more about the mythical club, and what ‘King Eric’ really meant to their fans.
As he puts it: “When I left [Auxerre], he was a guy that the whole of France seemed to hate and who was booed on every pitch, and when I met him again, I found a God, because Cantona in Manchester, he really was God. I didn’t stay there long, but I had the time to live through something special.
“It was during my first game against Queens Park Rangers. At one point, the crowd started singing “Hou Ha Cantona” and then La Marseillaise. I knew it was for Eric and not for me, but it gave me goosebumps.”
He continued: “In Manchester, they saw his charisma as genius. When I say he was a God, I’m not exaggerating. One day, after training, we went to the restaurant. People recognised him immediately, but no one bothered us during the meal.
“A long and silent queue started to form next to our table. In the end, everyone asked him, one by one, for an autograph in the utmost respect.”
During his time at Manchester United, which spanned over five years after signing from Leeds in 1992, Eric Cantona made 171 appearances for Manchester United and scored 77 goals.
And now, he could be on his way back to the club in some shape or form.