What was meant to be another night in European football turned to be one of those nights that soccer fans will always remember. Eric Cantona, a gifted, controversial, and legendary footballer gave the most cryptic speech covering flies, science, eternal life, wars, crime, and sheer love of football.
A night of glitz in which footballers traded their usual shirts and shorts for expensive and tailor-made tuxedos, Cantona, who has a proven history of defying the odds, was wearing a flat cap, sneakers, and an unbuttoned red shirt reminiscent of his upturned collar jersey at Manchester United.
He went to the podium to receive the UEFA president’s award but left those in attendance, including two of the world’s best players – Lionel Messi and Christiano – not just in shock, but unaware of the words of wisdom that had just hit them.
— United Xtra (@utdxtra) August 29, 2019
That is the class of Cantona.
Cantona was at his best, which some may confuse for insanity – and who would blame them – when he quoted William Shakespeare’s King Leah.
“As flies to wanton boys, we are for the gods. They kill us for the sport,” said the bearded Frenchman who turned to cinema after retiring from football at the prime age of 30.
And that was just the beginning.
“Soon the science will not only be able to throw down the ageing of the cells; soon the science will fix the cells to the state, and so we will become eternal.”
He was not done yet, at least not before perplexing Ronaldo and Messi, who looked genuinely puzzled at what he was saying.
“Only accidents, crimes, wars, will still kill us. But unfortunately, crimes and wars will multiply. I love football. Thank you.”
One man in the crowd looked visibly confused and only clapped hands because that’s what an audience does when someone gives a speech.
Making sense of Cantona’s “As Flies to Wanton Boys” speech
Unless Cantona comes forward and deciphers his highly cryptic speech, people will heavily speculate on what he was trying to say.
Quoting Shakespeare, a writer famous for his affinity for tragedies, is the first indication that tragedy somehow fits into Cantona’s equation.
He compared us to flies and how easily we are crushed by the gods. The most interesting part is that science can defeat mortality and give us eternal lives. Many people would love to live forever.
But our immortality will be jeopardized by accidents, crimes, and war and only crimes and wars – which are man-made problems – will multiply. This is a clear message to the world that our own actions will bite us in the end.
We are responsible for global warming, endless wars, and several other atrocities against the environment and humanity. These actions are a threat to our existence.
While we try to make sense of it all, what we know for sure is that Cantona, a player who once hit a fan with a flying kick, loves football.