Imagine getting to meet your icon face to face. Even when you enter the realms of being famous yourself, those people still have the power to illicit all of that happiness, hope and excitement. That’s what Loyle Carner and his brother found out recently, when they took the lead on EA Sports’ project to announce the return of Eric Cantona to FIFA 21.

As well as being an unbelievably talented musician, Loyle Carner is also a devoted football fan, and like many football fans of his generation, he has a deep admiration for one Eric Cantona. It’s an admiration that’s made all the more profound due to the recent passing of his stepfather, who idolised the former Manchester United man. So when Carner was approached by EA Sports to help celebrate Cantona’s return to the FIFA franchise with a short video titles ‘There Is Only One King’, he jumped at the opportunity, as he told us recently when we spoke with him all about the process behind the video, stepping behind the camera, working with his brother, and, of course, spending time with the man himself.

The connection you have with Eric Cantona has been beautifully celebrated, how did it feel to finally be able to link up with something like this?

Difficult to sum up. Working with and being respected by people you look up to is a trip.

You were creating something that marks him down as an Icon – what goes through your head when you get a project like that land your way?

Usually if something like this comes my way I can’t get enough creative freedom to make it work. But with this I said I'd only write the prose if me and my brother could direct the accompanying film.

What was the experience like? Was there a mutual appreciation there?

Yo! We had a kick about (me him and his son) just before we started shooting and I scored maybe the best goal I’ve ever scored in front of him. Right corner, top bins, never to be recreated. He gasped, no joke!

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We had a kick about just before we started shooting and I scored maybe the best goal I’ve ever scored in front of him. Right corner, top bins, never to be recreated. He gasped, no joke!"

Writing is one thing but adding directing to what you’re doing – how multi-discpilined an approach do you like to take with your craft?

It’s all creating. I’m just the happiest when i'm making things, usually the more creative control I have the happier I am with the final result.

Having Ryan involved in the process too, it’s important to surround yourself with creatives and people you can bounce off. What was it like for you both to work together on this?

I couldn’t do any of the directing work i've been doing without my brother.  He looks at the world in a completely different way to me, and has taught me loads in the short space of time we’ve been collaborating.

Has it inspired you to do more projects like this? It’s amazing to see the different avenues your craft can take you…

Yeah man, but only if it feels right.

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He’s rogue, a maverick and personifies the brilliance of being true to yourself and confident in who you are – a lot of us can learn from him – is that fair to say?

Massively. He’s timeless.

We’re seeing more and more characters come through into the game now. There’s always room for more with a Cantona streak isn’t there?

Yeah man, last push is just getting me in the game then my jobs done.

That goal against Sunderland. The celebration. Whoever you support, he’s pretty galvanising when it comes to appreciating what he has done and who he is… What goes through your head when you think of him?

I just think of my dad, and all the days we played football in the park or garden trying to recreate those goals.

Does he still have that aura about him now?

No doubt, it’s like hanging out with Batman.

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What line that you wrote in this piece means most to you? Can you explain what you wanted to convey most with this project?

Everywhere I look I see kings. In this time, where finally people who look like me are beginning to feel appreciated for who they are. I wanted to underline the idea that these people have always been there, they’ve always been kings. From the Great Mansa Musa of the Mali Empire (if you dont know, google him), all the way to Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Imagine playing FIFA with Eric Cantona – has the whole thing been surreal?

To be honest he’d get battered! Think it's probably best to keep the footy between us in the real world.

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EA SPORTS FIFA 21 is available to pre-order now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.