ALEX FERGUSON knew he had signed a man to light up Old Trafford the first day Eric Cantona walked through the door and took in his new surroundings.
The Theatre of Dreams has turned many footballing lions into mice through the sheer magnitude of the place.
That was never the case with Cantona.
It was one of the reasons Fergie never doubted he would be a legend. The two were meant to be together.
Sir Alex revealed: “If ever there was one player, anywhere in the world, that was made for Manchester United, it was Cantona.
“He swaggered in, stuck his chest out, raised his head and surveyed everything as though he were asking: ‘I’m Cantona, how big are you? Are you big enough for me?’ ”
It was a match made in heaven. A marriage that, while brief, was so passionate that United fans still sing his name even now.
Fergie, in his autobiography Managing My Life, wrote: “Many people justifiably claimed he was a catalyst who had a crucial impact on our successes while he was at the club.
“But nothing he did in matches meant more than the way he opened my eyes to the indispensability of practice.
“He conveyed a regal authority and the place was in a frenzy every time he touched the ball.
“Nobody had more imagination when it came to spotting the opportunity for an improbable and devastating pass, or threading a ball through crowding defenders.
“But like all truly exceptional players, he did something extravagant only when it was necessary.
“I knew the previous summer, when I was longing for someone who would lift our already formidable forces to another plane, I had been imagining a footballer very much like Eric Cantona. I knew, too, that some pretty spectacular performances were on the way.
“No one should ever doubt the massive contribution he made. He brought priceless presence and style to the team.
“Like most players he liked to be told he was special. What could not be denied was he deserved his success and not simply because of his talent.
“He gave a great deal of himself to the game and I never tired of watching him train.
“Once, after marvelling yet again at his level of concentration in a session, I mentioned that to him.
“He said, ‘All great players have good concentration and imagination’.
“Whether playing or talking, Eric never gave anybody any reason to question the richness of his imagination.”