I watched the DVD of Looking for Eric tonight. Entertaining enough, it is a sentimental feel-good film where virtue triumphs over evil and lost love is restored. And after watching it, I felt good. Ken Loach's films usually capture the little heroisms of working class life, this was closer to Hollywood heroism, a fantasy.
Then, of course, there was Eric - Eric Cantona. I have seen many of the best footballers of my generation play live; George Best obviously, less well-remembered ones like Johnny Haynes and once, as part of a friendly tour by Santos, Pelé. Pelé was incomparably the finest, but Eric was something else. He was my boyhood hero.
OK I was forty when he signed for United, but I think I had a second boyhood instead of a mid-life crisis. It was not just that Eric was a wonderful player and a catalyst for all that has followed over the subsequent eighteen years, I was hooked by Eric the person. He played with a sense of melodrama, with pride and poise. And he was one of the players who expressed himself through his football; you were always watching Cantona the person, not merely the player. And he certainly was not the stereotypical footballer.
So I wallowed in the warm bath of nostalgia, unable to escape the feeling that this too was Ken Loach's excuse for making the film, which ended with my favourite moment of Cantona's career.