Saturday March 15 2014
Cantona on Balotelli, Ibra and Pogba

Eric Cantona said Mario Balotelli and Zlatan Ibrahimovic can’t be considered “football rebels,” but Paul Pogba was right to quit Manchester United.

The Frenchman spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport at the presentation of a documentary on rebels in the sport.

“Ibrahimovic, Balotelli and I cannot be considered rebels,” declared Cantona.

“We might not fit into the boxes created by you journalists, but we are nothing if compared to the Chilean Caszely, whose mother was tortured because he opposed a dictatorship, like Socrates in Brazil, the Bosnian Pasic who remained in Sarajevo to teach football to children under bombardments, Drogba who opposed the war in the Ivory Coast or Mekloufi who gave up on a career with France to fund the national team of Algerian rebels.

“Balotelli is a great player and you can see his talent in the goals he scores. He also has great mental strength to put up with the enormous media pressure.

“Balotelli is the example for a country that is only now starting to deal with immigration. To be one of the first black players in your national team makes him a little like Viv Anderson for England in 1978. All of this makes him special, just as the children of immigrants like Kopa, Platini and Zidane were special for France.

“Maybe one day Balotelli will be a part of one of my documentaries.”

Cantona hit his peak at Manchester United, but praised fellow Frenchman Pogba for leaving Old Trafford.

“Pogba certainly did well to quit Manchester United and Juve did well to take him.”

Finally, the often troubled former forward explained why he was arrested for assault this week.

“I had a row with a paparazzo. He was too invasive. I spent three hours in the police station, but the scandal was created by the journalists, as he doesn’t have a scratch on him.”

See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with