Dermot Gallagher was interviewed on Quickly Kevin podcast this week and revealed a crazy story about how he was asked to save Eric Cantona’s life, when the Manchester United striker returned to face Leeds United.
Cantona joined Manchester United from Leeds United for £1.2 million in November 1992. Leeds originally contacted United about signing Denis Irwin but thanks to some quick thinking from chairman Martin Edwards United signed the Frenchman.
I had never had a conversation about Cantona with Alex but had read that Howard Wilkinson and him didn’t get on. So I blurted it out. I actually rang Alex at the training ground and told him. He said: ‘Too right I would have Cantona’. So the next day I called Bill and said we would take Cantona off their hands. As though we were doing them a favour! We got him for £1million but Bill asked that we say it was £1.6m to appease the Leeds fans. I said: ‘You can say what you like…’
A few weeks later United were playing Leeds United. Pre match the police came in to see referee Dermort Gallagher. Instead of going through the pre match ramble the police had an odd request for the referee.
There had been a death threat to Eric Cantona as a Leeds fan had threatened to shoot him but the police were quite calm about it as they had a solution. They asked Dermot Gallagher to put himself in the line of fire and stand next to Cantona all game so the shooter would have 2nd thoughts. Dermot rightly told the police to p1ss off but it must have worked as Eric lived to tell the tale.
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Artwork from Harry Deansway.