Eric Cantona reveals pigeon sacrifice ritual that helped win the French cup

Forget seagulls, the French footballer was involved in a bloody pre-match event involving pigeons

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French football legend Eric Cantona freely admits he’s a superstitious chap. From popping the collar of his Manchester United shirt every game for good luck to playing with a packet of salt in his socks, he is a ritual footballer.

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But ahead of Euro 2016, Cantona revealed perhaps the most bizarre pre-match ritual yet, involving… a dead pigeon.

“I remember when I was in Montpellier, it wasn’t superstitious but it was kind of superstition, we lost a few games so they sent somebody to give us bad things. A guru,” explained Cantona. Basically, it sounds like the club brought in somebody to dispel some of the bad energy in the dressing room. So far, so harmless.

But here’s where it gets really quite disturbing. “They called someone with live pigeons. We were all around the dressing room and for each player he had a pigeon, alive, and he put the pigeons on our heads and killed the pigeons. And all the blood was coming down our bodies. And from this time we started to win, and we won the French cup.”

Even in a football world that includes using horse placenta as an injury recovery tool, this is unheard of. Cantona played for Montpelier from 1989-1990, by the way.

“Just because they thought somebody put negative things on us, you know?” he added. “Charmed or cursed. So we had nothing to lose because we had lost a few games, and why not try it?”

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Cantona is fronting ITV’s new trailers for Euro 2016, ahead of the channel’s opening match between France and Romania on Friday 10th June.