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'As flies to wanton boys, we are the Gods' - Cantona gives bizarre speech after winning UEFA award

Manchester United legend Eric Cantona left onlookers baffled when he gave a bizarre acceptance speech after collecting an award at the Champions League group stage draw.

Cantona was presented with the President's Award from UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin during Thursday’s ceremony in Monaco to honour his illustrious playing career and charity work.

While most of the male attendees wore smart suits, Cantona took to the stage wearing a flat cap and red shirt with top buttons undone.

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After being handed the award, the 54-year-old, who also enjoyed a career as an actor after retiring from football, quoted Shakespeare’s King Lear as part of a unique acceptance speech that left the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the audience a little confused.

"As flies to wanton boys, we are for the Gods. They kill us for the sport,” he said.

"Soon the science will not only be able to throw down the ageing of the cells, the science will fix the cells to the state, and so we’ll become ... only accidents, crimes, wars will still kill us.

"But unfortunately, crimes and wars will multiply.

"I love football. Thank you."

The speech brought back memories of another famous Cantona monologue following his infamous kung-fu kick towards a Crystal Palace fan during a game at Selhurst Park in 1995.

Speaking to journalists at a press conference shortly afterwards, Cantona said:  “When seagulls follow the trawler it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea."

Cantona was banned from football for eight months for the incident, with United missing out on the Premier League title to Blackburn Rovers and losing the FA Cup final to Everton in his absence.

He returned to action at the end of September 1995 and played a key role as the Red Devils claimed the domesitc double, including scoring the only goal in the FA Cup final against Liverpool at Wembley.

He then helped United retain the Premier League the following season, his fourth title in five years at the club.

However, in the summer of 1997 he announced his shock retirement from football at the age of just 30, bringing to an end a colourful playing career that also took in spells at Marseille, Montpellier and Leeds United.