Peter Schmeichel has revealed that he and Eric Cantona’s shared passion for jazz led to an impromptu duet between the two at a Manchester United party.
Schmeichel and Cantona are two of United’s most famous characters from a hugely successful period in the club’s history.
The Danish goalkeeper helped United win five league titles, three FA Cups and the Champions League during his eight years with the club.
But he was also a budding musician and his friendship with the mercurial Cantona extended off the pitch in hotel rooms before away matches, where the duo would talk about their passions deep into the night.
Schmeichel and Cantona’s musical connection was purely theoretical until a particularly raucous night following United’s 1-0 win over rivals Liverpool in the 1996 FA Cup final at Wembley.
Cantona’s 85th-minute strike earned United the trophy and their celebrations saw the Frenchman play his trumpet, with Schmeichel on the piano.
“Eric and me, we were roommates for away trips,” Schmeichel explained onBBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.
“We stayed in the same hotel room and we had long chats about everything. I knew that Eric had begun to take trumpet lessons.
“And from a very early age, my father wanted me to be a pianist. I say forced – and it was a bit forced, I have to say. I was forced to play the piano.
“It was one of those rare moments where you had a little bit too much adrenaline still in your body – and maybe a little bit too much to drink as well – and there's a piano and whatever happens happens, and you get carried away…”
Schmeichel was then asked what they tried to play during United’s knees-up following their Wembley win.
“We tried to play My Funny Valentine,” he said, referring to the classic jazz show tune standard.
“Eric loved My Funny Valentine. I know that his dream was to play My Funny Valentine. And it was part of his lessons.”
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The revelations did not stop there, with Schmeichel going on to talk about his upbringing in Denmark and, in particular, his father.
When talking about how his Polish-born father Tolek Schmeichel made it to Denmark during the Cold War, the 57-year-old revealed that he wasforced to become a spy.
Schmeichel’s father, who became a Danish citizen in 1970, died aged 85, but his mother Inger is still alive and living in Copenhagen, where she regularly attends classical music concerts.
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