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Eric Cantona

Eric Cantona

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Eric Daniel Pierre Cantona ('kantɔna'; born 24 May 1966) is a French actor and former French international footballer. He played for Auxerre
AJ Auxerre
Association de la Jeunesse Auxerroise is a French association football club based in the commune of Auxerre in Burgundy. The club was founded in 1905 and currently play in Ligue 1, the top division of French football. Auxerre plays its home matches at the Stade l'Abbé-Deschamps on the banks of the...

, Martigues
FC Martigues
FC Martigues play in the Championnat National, which is the third level of football in France. The club was formed in 1921 and played regional football until the early 1970s when the club gained promotion to the professional Second Division.The club's greatest achievement was winning promotion to...

, Marseille
Olympique de Marseille
Olympique de Marseille is a French association football club based in Marseille. Founded in 1899, the club plays in Ligue 1 and have spent most of its history in the top tier of French football. Marseille have been French champions nine times and have won the Coupe de France a record ten times. In...

, Bordeaux
FC Girondins de Bordeaux
Football Club des Girondins de Bordeaux is a French association football club based in the city of Bordeaux. The club currently play in Ligue 1, the first division of French football, and won its last Ligue 1 title in the 2008–09 season....

, Montpellier
Montpellier HSC
Montpellier Hérault Sport Club is a French association football club based in the city of Montpellier. The club was founded in 1919 and currently plays in Ligue 1, the top level of French football. Montpellier plays its home matches at the Stade de la Mosson, located within the city...

, Nîmes
Nîmes Olympique
Nîmes Olympique is a French association football club based in Nîmes. The club was formed on 10 April 1937 and currently play in Championnat National, the third level of French football. The club's only achievement was winning Ligue 2 in 1950 and the Championnat National in 1997...

 and Leeds United
Leeds United A.F.C.
Leeds United Association Football Club are an English professional association football club based in Beeston, Leeds, West Yorkshire, who play in the Football League Championship, the second tier of the English football league system...

 before ending his professional footballing career at Manchester United
Manchester United F.C.
Manchester United Football Club is an English professional football club, based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, that plays in the Premier League. Founded as Newton Heath LYR Football Club in 1878, the club changed its name to Manchester United in 1902 and moved to Old Trafford in 1910.The 1958...

, where he won four Premier League titles in five years and two League and FA Cup
FA Cup
The Football Association Challenge Cup, commonly known as the FA Cup, is a knockout cup competition in English football and is the oldest association football competition in the world. The "FA Cup" is run by and named after The Football Association and usually refers to the English men's...

 Doubles
The Double
The Double is a term in association football which refers to winning a country's top tier division and its primary cup competition in the same season...

.

Cantona is often regarded as having played a key role in the revival of Manchester United as a footballing force and he enjoys iconic status at the club. He wore the number 7 shirt at United, which was previously worn by George Best
George Best
George Best was a professional footballer from Northern Ireland, who played for Manchester United and the Northern Ireland national team. He was a winger whose game combined pace, acceleration, balance, two-footedness, goalscoring and the ability to beat defenders...

 and Bryan Robson
Bryan Robson
Bryan Robson OBE is an English football manager and a former player. He is best known for playing in midfield for Manchester United, where he was the longest serving captain in club history. He was the manager of Sheffield United, being relieved of his first team duties at the club in February 2008...

, and subsequently worn by David Beckham
David Beckham
David Robert Joseph Beckham, OBE is an English footballer who plays midfield for Los Angeles Galaxy in Major League Soccer, having previously played for Manchester United, Preston North End, Real Madrid, and A.C...

 and Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro, OIH, , commonly known as Cristiano Ronaldo, is a Portuguese footballer who plays as a winger or striker for Spanish La Liga club Real Madrid and is the captain of the Portuguese national team...

. Cantona is affectionately nicknamed by Manchester United fans "King Eric", and was voted as Manchester United's greatest ever player by Inside United
Inside United
Inside United is the official magazine of the English football club Manchester United. Issues are published every four weeks, resulting in 13 issues per year...

 magazine. Set against his footballing achievements was a poor disciplinary record throughout his career, including a conviction for assault on a fan in 1995.

Following his retirement from football, he took up a career in cinema and had a role in the 1998 film Elizabeth
Elizabeth (film)
Elizabeth is a 1998 biographical film written by Michael Hirst, directed by Shekhar Kapur, and starring Cate Blanchett in the title role of Queen Elizabeth I of England, alongside Geoffrey Rush, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Fiennes, Sir John Gielgud, Fanny Ardant and Richard Attenborough...

, starring Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett
Catherine Élise "Cate" Blanchett is an Australian actress. She came to international attention for her role as Elizabeth I of England in the 1998 biopic film Elizabeth, for which she won British Academy of Film and Television Arts and Golden Globe Awards, and earned her first Academy Award...

, and the 2009 film Looking for Eric
Looking for Eric
Looking for Eric is a 2009 French/Belgium/British film about the escape from the trials of modern life that football and its heroes can bring for its fans. It was written by screen writer Paul Laverty and directed by English director Ken Loach...

.

In 2010, he debuted as a stage actor in Face au paradis, a French play directed by his wife, Rachida Brakni
Rachida Brakni
Rachida Brakni is a French actress of Algerian origin. She is married to the football hero turned film actor Eric Cantona, whom she met on the filmset of Outremangeur in 2002....

.

On 19 January 2011, Cantona joined the revived New York Cosmos
New York Cosmos (2010)
The New York Cosmos are an American soccer club based in New York City. The team was formed in August 2010 by a consortium led by English businessman Paul Kemsley, and aspires to become a franchise of Major League Soccer, the top professional soccer league in the United States of America and Canada...

 as Director of Soccer.

Early life


Although it has been suggested that he was born in Paris, Cantona was actually born in Marseille
Marseille
Marseille , known in antiquity as Massalia , is the second largest city in France, after Paris, with a population of 852,395 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Marseille extends beyond the city limits with a population of over 1,420,000 on an area of...

 to Albert Cantona and Ėléonore Raurich. The family home was a cave in one of the hills in the Caillols area of Marseille, between the city's 11th and 12th arrondissement
Arrondissement
Arrondissement is any of various administrative divisions of France, certain other Francophone countries, and the Netherlands.-France:The 101 French departments are divided into 342 arrondissements, which may be translated into English as districts. The capital of an arrondissement is called a...

s, and it was rumoured to have been used as a look-out post for the German army towards the end of the Second World War. The site was chosen in the mid-1950s by Cantona's paternal grandmother, Lucienne, whose husband, Joseph, was a stonemason. By the time Cantona was born in 1966, the hillside cave had become little more than a room in the family's house, which was now up to a liveable standard. Cantona has two brothers: Jean-Marie, who is four years older; and Joël, who is 17 months younger.

Cantona came from a family of immigrants: his paternal grandfather, Joseph, had immigrated to Marseille from Sardinia
Sardinia
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands.The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard[],...

, while his mother's parents had been Catalan
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

 separatists. Pedro Raurich, Cantona's maternal grandfather, was fighting the armies of General Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

 in the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

 in 1938 when he suffered a serious injury to his liver, and he had to retreat to France for medical treatment with his wife Paquita. The Raurichs stayed in Saint-Priest, Ardèche
Saint-Priest, Ardèche
Saint-Priest is a commune in the Ardèche department in southern France.-Population:-References:*...

, before settling in Marseille.

Early career


Cantona began his football career with SO Caillolais, his local team and one that had produced such talent as Roger Jouve
Roger Jouve
Roger Jouve is a retired French international football midfielder.-Titles:*French championship in 1979 with RC Strasbourg*Division 2 in 1970 with OGC Nice-References:**...

 and had players such as Jean Tigana
Jean Tigana
Jean Amadou Tigana is a manager and former French international footballer, having played in midfield and managed professional football extensively throughout France, including 52 appearances and 1 goal for the France national football team during the 1980s.-Playing career:Tigana started his...

 and Christophe Galtier
Christophe Galtier
Christophe Galtier is a French former football defender, who is currently the Head Coach of AS Saint-Étienne.-Career:Galtier spent most of his career in France before ending his career with stints in Italy and China....

 within its ranks. Originally, Cantona began to follow in his father's footsteps and often played as a goalkeeper, but his creative instincts began to take over and he would play up front more and more often. In his time with SO Caillolais, Cantona played in more than 200 matches.

France


Cantona's first professional club was Auxerre
AJ Auxerre
Association de la Jeunesse Auxerroise is a French association football club based in the commune of Auxerre in Burgundy. The club was founded in 1905 and currently play in Ligue 1, the top division of French football. Auxerre plays its home matches at the Stade l'Abbé-Deschamps on the banks of the...

, where he spent two years in the youth team before making his debut on 5 November 1983, in a 4–0 league victory over Nancy.

In 1984 his footballing career was put on hold as he carried out his national service
National service
National service is a common name for mandatory government service programmes . The term became common British usage during and for some years following the Second World War. Many young people spent one or more years in such programmes...

. After his discharge he was loaned out to Martigues
FC Martigues
FC Martigues play in the Championnat National, which is the third level of football in France. The club was formed in 1921 and played regional football until the early 1970s when the club gained promotion to the professional Second Division.The club's greatest achievement was winning promotion to...

 in the French Second Division before rejoining Auxerre and signing a professional contract in 1986. His performances in the First Division were good enough to earn him his first full international cap. However, his disciplinary problems began in 1987 when he was fined for punching team mate Bruno Martini
Bruno Martini
Bruno Martini is a retired French footballer who played as a goalkeeper.His professional career was closely associated with Auxerre, for which he played 13 years...

 in the face

The following year, Cantona was again in trouble because of a dangerous tackle on Nantes player Michel Der Zakarian
Michel Der Zakarian
Michel Der Zakarian is a former Franco-Armenian professional football defender and manager.He was a member of the Armenia national team, participated in five international matches since his debut in home 1998 World Cup qualifying match against Portugal...

, resulting in a three game suspension; this was later reduced to a two match suspension as his club Auxerre threatened to make the player unavailable for selection in the national team. He was part of the French under-21 side
France national under-21 football team
The France national under-21 football team , known in France as Les Espoirs , is the national under-21 football team of France and is controlled by the French Football Federation. The team competes in the UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship, held every two years...

 that won the 1988 U21 European Championship
1988 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship
The UEFA U-21 Championship 1988, which spanned two years , had 30 entrants. The Republic of Ireland competed for the first time. France U-21s won the competition....

 and shortly after he transferred to Marseille
Olympique de Marseille
Olympique de Marseille is a French association football club based in Marseille. Founded in 1899, the club plays in Ligue 1 and have spent most of its history in the top tier of French football. Marseille have been French champions nine times and have won the Coupe de France a record ten times. In...

 for a French record fee (FF22m). In January 1989 during a friendly game against Torpedo Moscow
FC Torpedo Moscow
FC Torpedo Moscow is an association football club, based in Moscow, Russia. The club was founded in 1930. On March 19, 2009 it was denied membership of the Professional Football League and did not play in the professional competitions in 2009...

 he kicked the ball at the crowd, then ripped off and threw away his shirt after being substituted. His club responded by banning him for a month. Just a few months earlier, he had been banned from international matches for one year after insulting the national coach on TV.

Having struggled to settle at Marseille, Cantona moved to Bordeaux
FC Girondins de Bordeaux
Football Club des Girondins de Bordeaux is a French association football club based in the city of Bordeaux. The club currently play in Ligue 1, the first division of French football, and won its last Ligue 1 title in the 2008–09 season....

 on a six-month loan and then to Montpellier on a year-long loan. At Montpellier, he was involved in a fight with team-mate Jean-Claude Lemoult
Jean-Claude Lemoult
Jean-Claude Lemoult is a French former professional football player.Lemoult was a member of the French squad that won the gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California....

 and threw his boots in Lemoult's face. The incident led to six players demanding that Cantona be sacked. However, with the support of team-mates such as Laurent Blanc
Laurent Blanc
Laurent Robert Blanc is a French association football manager and former player. He is the head coach of the French national team, having replaced Raymond Domenech in the wake of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. He was previously the manager of Bordeaux...

 and Carlos Valderrama, the club retained his services, although they banned him from the ground for ten days. Cantona was instrumental as the team went on to win the French Cup and his form persuaded Marseille to take him back.

Back at Marseille, Cantona initially played well under coach Gerard Gili and his successor Franz Beckenbauer
Franz Beckenbauer
Franz Anton Beckenbauer is a German football coach, manager, and former player, nicknamed Der Kaiser because of his elegant style, his leadership, his first name "Franz" , and his dominance on the football pitch...

. However, the Marseille chairman Bernard Tapie
Bernard Tapie
Bernard Tapie is a French businessman, politician and occasional actor, singer, and TV host. He was Ministre de la Ville in the government of Pierre Bérégovoy, a businessman specializing in recovery for bankrupted companies, among which Adidas is the most famous ; and owner of sports teams...

 was not satisfied with the results, and replaced Beckenbauer with Raymond Goethals
Raymond Goethals
Raymond Goethals was a Belgian football coach who notably led Marseille to victory in the UEFA Champions League final in 1993, becoming the first coach to win a European trophy with a French club....

; Cantona was continually at odds with Goethals and Tapie and, despite helping the team win the French Division 1
Ligue 1
Ligue 1 , is the French professional league for association football clubs. It is the country's primary football competition and serves as the top division of the French football league system. Ligue 1 is one of two divisions making up the Ligue de Football Professionnel, the other being Ligue 2....

 title, he was transferred to Nîmes
Nîmes Olympique
Nîmes Olympique is a French association football club based in Nîmes. The club was formed on 10 April 1937 and currently play in Championnat National, the third level of French football. The club's only achievement was winning Ligue 2 in 1950 and the Championnat National in 1997...

 the following season.

In December 1991, during a match for Nîmes he threw the ball at the referee, having been angered by one of his decisions. He was summoned to a disciplinary hearing by the French Football Federation
French Football Federation
The French Football Federation is the governing body of association football in France, as well as the overseas departments and territories . It was formed in 1919 and is based in the capital Paris...

 and was banned for one month. Cantona responded by walking up to each member of the hearing committee in turn and calling him an idiot. His ban was increased to two months, and Cantona subsequently announced his retirement from football on 16 December 1991.

The French national team coach Michel Platini
Michel Platini
Michel François Platini is a former French football player, manager and current president of UEFA. Platini was a member of the French national team that won the 1984 European Championship, a tournament in which he was the top goalscorer and voted the best player. He participated in the 1978, 1982...

 was a fan of Cantona, and persuaded him to make a comeback. On the advice of Gérard Houllier
Gérard Houllier
Gérard Houllier, OBE , is a French football manager, who was last manager of Premier League club Aston Villa. He stepped down on 1 June 2011, following hospitalisation over heart problems towards the end of the 2010-2011 season....

 as well as his psychoanalyst, he moved to England to restart his career, "He [my psychoanalyst] advised me not to sign for Marseille and recommended that I should go to England."

Leeds United


On 6 November 1991, after Liverpool's
Liverpool F.C.
Liverpool Football Club is an English Premier League football club based in Liverpool, Merseyside. Liverpool has won eighteen League titles, second most in English football, seven FA Cups and a record seven League Cups...

 3–0 victory over Auxerre in a UEFA Cup Second Round second leg tie at Anfield, Liverpool manager Graeme Souness
Graeme Souness
Graeme James Souness is a Scottish former professional football player and manager.Souness was the captain of the successful Liverpool team of the early 1980s and player-manager of Rangers in the late 1980s as well as captain of the Scottish national team. He also played for Tottenham Hotspur,...

 was met by Frenchman Michel Platini
Michel Platini
Michel François Platini is a former French football player, manager and current president of UEFA. Platini was a member of the French national team that won the 1984 European Championship, a tournament in which he was the top goalscorer and voted the best player. He participated in the 1978, 1982...

 at the end of the game, who told him that Cantona was available for sale to Liverpool. Souness thanked Platini, but declined the offer, citing dressing room harmony as his reason. In January 1992, Cantona arrived in England for a one-week trial with Sheffield Wednesday
Sheffield Wednesday F.C.
Sheffield Wednesday Football Club are a football club based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England, who are currently competing in the Football League One in the 2011-12 season, in England. Sheffield Wednesday are one of the oldest professional clubs in the world and the fourth oldest in the...

, managed by Trevor Francis
Trevor Francis
Trevor John Francis , is a former footballer who won the European Cup with Nottingham Forest and played for England 52 times. He was England's first £1 million player...

, who were on course for a third place finish in the First Division just one season after promotion.

When offered a further week extension to the trial, he refused and instead joined Yorkshire rivals Leeds United
Leeds United A.F.C.
Leeds United Association Football Club are an English professional association football club based in Beeston, Leeds, West Yorkshire, who play in the Football League Championship, the second tier of the English football league system...

, where he was part of the team that won the final Football League First Division
Football League First Division
The First Division was a division of The Football League between 1888 and 2004 and the highest division in English football until the creation of the Premier League in 1992. The secondary tier in English football has since become known as the Championship....

 championship before it was replaced by the Premier League as the top division in English football. His transfer cost Leeds £900,000 from Nîmes.

Cantona made 15 appearances for Leeds in their championship-winning season and despite only scoring three goals he was instrumental in their title success, primarily with assists for leading goalscorer Lee Chapman
Lee Chapman
Lee Chapman is an English former footballer who scored almost 200 first-team goals as a striker. He was best known for his spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United...

. He scored a hat-trick in the Charity Shield
FA Community Shield
The Football Association Community Shield is English football's annual match contested between the champions of the previous Premier League season and the holders of the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium. If the Premier League champions also won the FA Cup then the league runners-up provide the opposition...

 4–3 win over Liverpool in 1992, and followed that with another in a 5–0 league win over Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur F.C.
Tottenham Hotspur Football Club , commonly referred to as Spurs, is an English Premier League football club based in Tottenham, north London. The club's home stadium is White Hart Lane....

. His hat-trick in the Charity Shield places him among the small elite group of players to have scored three or more goals in games at Wembley Stadium
Wembley Stadium
The original Wembley Stadium, officially known as the Empire Stadium, was a football stadium in Wembley, a suburb of north-west London, standing on the site now occupied by the new Wembley Stadium that opened in 2007...

.

Cantona left Leeds for Manchester United for £1.2 million on 26 November 1992. Leeds chairman Bill Fotherby had telephoned Manchester United chairman Martin Edwards
Martin Edwards
Charles Martin Edwards was the chairman of Manchester United from 1980 until 2002. He now holds the position of honorary life president at the club.- Education :...

 to enquire about the availability of Denis Irwin
Denis Irwin
Denis Joseph Irwin is a former Irish football player who is best known for his long and successful stint at Manchester United, where he established himself as one of the most important players in the United team that won a host of domestic and European trophies in his time there between 1990 and...

. Edwards was in a meeting with United manager Alex Ferguson
Alex Ferguson
Sir Alexander Chapman "Alex" Ferguson, CBE is a Scottish association football manager and former player, currently managing Manchester United, where he has been in charge since 1986...

 at the time, and both men agreed that Irwin was not for sale. Ferguson had identified that his team was in need of a striker, having recently made bids for David Hirst
David Hirst (footballer)
David Eric Hirst is an English former professional footballer, an exciting but injury prone striker who played for Sheffield Wednesday for much of his career.-Playing career:...

, Matt Le Tissier and Brian Deane
Brian Deane
Brian Christopher Deane is an English former footballer.Signed for £40,000 from Doncaster Rovers in the close season of 1988, Deane first played and scored for Sheffield United in an 8–1 victory against Skegness Town...

, and instructed his chairman to ask Wilkinson whether Cantona was for sale. Fotherby had to consult with the manager Howard Wilkinson
Howard Wilkinson
Howard Wilkinson is a former English football player and manager, and has recently stepped down as a Non-Executive Director at Sheffield Wednesday after formerly relinquishing the chairman role to Milan Mandaric...

, but within a few days the deal was complete.
1992–93 season

Cantona made his first appearance for Manchester United in a friendly match against Benfica in Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

 to mark Eusébio
Eusébio
Eusébio da Silva Ferreira, GCIH, GCM , commonly known simply as Eusébio, is a retired Mozambican-born Portuguese football forward. He is considered one of the best footballers of all-time by the IFFHS, experts and fans...

's 50th birthday, wearing the number 10 shirt. He made his competitive debut as a second half substitute against Manchester City
Manchester City F.C.
Manchester City Football Club is an English Premier League football club based in Manchester. Founded in 1880 as St. Mark's , they became Ardwick Association Football Club in 1887 and Manchester City in 1894...

 at Old Trafford on 6 December 1992, wearing the number 12 shirt. United won 2–1, though Cantona made little impact that day.

United's season had been disappointing up to Cantona's signing. They were falling behind the likes of big spending Aston Villa
Aston Villa F.C.
Aston Villa Football Club is an English professional association football club based in Witton, Birmingham. The club was founded in 1874 and have played at their current home ground, Villa Park, since 1897. Aston Villa were founder members of The Football League in 1888. They were also founder...

 and Blackburn Rovers
Blackburn Rovers F.C.
Blackburn Rovers Football Club is an English professional association football club based in the town of Blackburn, Lancashire. The team currently competes in the Premier League, the top tier of English football....

 in the race for the first Premier League title, as well as surprise challengers including Norwich City
Norwich City F.C.
Norwich City Football Club is an English professional football club based in Norwich, Norfolk. As of the 2011–12 season, Norwich City are again playing in the Premier League after a six-year absence, having finished as runner up in the Championship in 2010–11 and winning automatic promotion.The...

 and Queen's Park Rangers. Goalscoring had been a problem since the halfway point of the previous season – when it had cost them the league title.

Brian McClair
Brian McClair
Brian John McClair is a former Scottish international football player who played as a forward, notable for his near 11-year spell at Manchester United, as well as important tenures at Scottish clubs Celtic and Motherwell...

 and Mark Hughes
Mark Hughes
Leslie Mark Hughes, OBE , is a former Welsh international footballer. As an international footballer, he made 72 appearances and scored 16 goals....

 were off form, and summer signing Dion Dublin
Dion Dublin
Dion Dublin , is a retired English footballer. He was capped four times for England. Dublin started his career as a centre back with Norwich City, but made his name at Cambridge United as a goal-scoring centre forward. However, in his later years he showed his versatility by becoming an...

 had broken his leg early in the season, ruling him out of action for six months. However, Cantona quickly settled into the team, not only scoring goals but also creating chances for the other players. His first United goal came in a 1–1 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on 19 December 1992, and his second came on Boxing Day
Boxing Day
Boxing Day is a bank or public holiday that occurs on 26 December, or the first or second weekday after Christmas Day, depending on national or regional laws. It is observed in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and some other Commonwealth nations. In Ireland, it is recognized as...

 in a 3–3 draw against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough
Hillsborough Stadium
Hillsborough Stadium is the home of Sheffield Wednesday football club, Sheffield, England. Football has been played at the ground since it was opened on 2 September 1899, when Wednesday moved from their original ground at Olive Grove. Today it is a 39,812 capacity all-seater stadium, making it the...

 where they claimed a point after being 3–0 down at half time. However, controversy was never far away, and on his return to Elland Road to play Leeds a few weeks later, he spat at a fan and was fined £1,000 by the FA.

In Cantona's first season at Old Trafford
Old Trafford
Old Trafford commonly refers to two sporting arenas:* Old Trafford, home of Manchester United F.C.* Old Trafford Cricket Ground, home of Lancashire County Cricket ClubOld Trafford can also refer to:...

, United won the inaugural Premier League by 10 points – winning the title for the first time since 1967. In doing so, he became the first player to win back-to-back English top division titles with different clubs.
1993–94 season

Manchester United retained the Premier League, and Cantona's two penalties
Penalty kick
A penalty kick is a type of direct free kick in association football, taken from twelve yards out from goal and with only the goalkeeper of the defending team between the penalty taker and the goal.Penalty kicks are performed during normal play...

 helped them to a 4–0 win over Chelsea
Chelsea F.C.
Chelsea Football Club are an English football club based in West London. Founded in 1905, they play in the Premier League and have spent most of their history in the top tier of English football. Chelsea have been English champions four times, FA Cup winners six times and League Cup winners four...

 in the FA Cup
FA Cup
The Football Association Challenge Cup, commonly known as the FA Cup, is a knockout cup competition in English football and is the oldest association football competition in the world. The "FA Cup" is run by and named after The Football Association and usually refers to the English men's...

 Final. He also collected a runners-up medal in the Football League Cup
Football League Cup
The Football League Cup, commonly known as the League Cup or, from current sponsorship, the Carling Cup, is an English association football competition. Like the FA Cup, it is played on a knockout basis...

, which United lost 3–1 to Aston Villa
Aston Villa F.C.
Aston Villa Football Club is an English professional association football club based in Witton, Birmingham. The club was founded in 1874 and have played at their current home ground, Villa Park, since 1897. Aston Villa were founder members of The Football League in 1888. They were also founder...

. He was also voted PFA Player of the Year for that season. However, the season was not without its moments of controversy; Cantona was sent off as Manchester United exited the Champions League
UEFA Champions League
The UEFA Champions League, known simply the Champions League and originally known as the European Champion Clubs' Cup or European Cup, is an annual international club football competition organised by the Union of European Football Associations since 1955 for the top football clubs in Europe. It...

 against Galatasaray
Galatasaray S.K. (football team)
Galatasaray Anonim Şirketi is a Turkish football club, part of the Galatasaray S.K. multi-sport club of Istanbul. Galatasaray is a major sports club in Turkey, holding 17 Turkish Super League titles and the highest number of Turkish Cups....

, and he was also dismissed in successive Premier League games, firstly against Swindon Town
Swindon Town F.C.
Swindon Town Football Club are a team based in Swindon, Wiltshire. Currently in League Two, Swindon have been managed by Paolo Di Canio since 23 May 2011...

 and then against Arsenal
Arsenal F.C.
Arsenal Football Club is a professional English Premier League football club based in North London. One of the most successful clubs in English football, it has won 13 First Division and Premier League titles and 10 FA Cups...

. The two successive red cards saw Cantona banned for five matches, including a FA Cup semi-final clash with Oldham Athletic, which United drew 1–1. Cantona was available for the replay and helped them win 4–1.

1993–94 was the first season of squad numbers in the Premier League. Cantona was issued with the number 7 shirt; a squad number which he kept for the rest of his career at United. However, squad numbers were not set for the UEFA Champions League matches and Cantona wore the number 9 shirt in all four fixtures against Kispest Honved and Galatasaray respectively.
1994–95 season

In the following season United looked to win a third successive league title, but on 25 January 1995 he was involved in an incident which attracted headlines and controversy worldwide. In an away match against Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace F.C.
Crystal Palace Football Club are an English Football league club based in South Norwood, London. The team plays its home matches at Selhurst Park, where they have been based since 1924. The club currently competes in the second tier of English Football, The Championship.Crystal Palace was formed in...

, Cantona was sent off
Misconduct (football)
Misconduct in association football is any conduct by a player that is deemed by the referee to warrant a disciplinary sanction in accordance with Law 12 of the Laws of the Game. Misconduct may occur at any time, including when the ball is out of play, during half-time and before and after the...

 by the referee for a kick on Palace defender Richard Shaw
Richard Shaw (footballer)
Richard Shaw is an English former professional football player, and currently a coach for Millwall....

 after Shaw had pulled his shirt. As he was walking towards the tunnel, Cantona launched a 'kung-fu' style kick into the crowd, directed at Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons, followed by a series of punches.

At a press conference
News conference
A news conference or press conference is a media event in which newsmakers invite journalists to hear them speak and, most often, ask questions. A joint press conference instead is held between two or more talking sides.-Practice:...

 called later, Cantona gave what is perhaps his most famous quotation. Perhaps referring to how journalists would constantly monitor his behaviour, Cantona said, in a slow and deliberate manner: "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much." He then got up from his seat and left, leaving many of the assembled crowd bemused.

Cantona was arrested and convicted for assault, resulting in a two week prison sentence. This was overturned in the appeal court
Court of Appeal of England and Wales
The Court of Appeal of England and Wales is the second most senior court in the English legal system, with only the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom above it...

 and instead he was sentenced to 120 hours of community service
Community service
Community service is donated service or activity that is performed by someone or a group of people for the benefit of the public or its institutions....

.

In accordance with the Football Association
The Football Association
The Football Association, also known as simply The FA, is the governing body of football in England, and the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. It was formed in 1863, and is the oldest national football association...

's wishes, Manchester United suspended Cantona for the remaining four months of the 1994–95 season, which ruled him out of first team action as United were still in the hunt for a second double. He was also fined £20,000.

The Football Association then increased the ban to eight months (up to and including 30 September 1995) and fined him a further £10,000. The FA Chief Executive Graham Kelly
Graham Kelly (football)
Graham Kelly is an English football administrator. He was Secretary of the Football League and Chief executive of the Football Association from 1989 to 1998....

 described his attack as "a stain on our game" that brought shame on football. FIFA
FIFA
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association , commonly known by the acronym FIFA , is the international governing body of :association football, futsal and beach football. Its headquarters are located in Zurich, Switzerland, and its president is Sepp Blatter, who is in his fourth...

 then confirmed the suspension as worldwide, meaning that Cantona couldn't escape the ban by transferring to a foreign club. Manchester United also fined Cantona two weeks' wages and he was stripped of the French captaincy; his club eventually lost the Premier League title to Blackburn Rovers
Blackburn Rovers F.C.
Blackburn Rovers Football Club is an English professional association football club based in the town of Blackburn, Lancashire. The team currently competes in the Premier League, the top tier of English football....

.

There had been media speculation that Cantona would leave English football when his ban finished, but Alex Ferguson
Alex Ferguson
Sir Alexander Chapman "Alex" Ferguson, CBE is a Scottish association football manager and former player, currently managing Manchester United, where he has been in charge since 1986...

 persuaded him to stay in Manchester, despite interest from the Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 club Internazionale
F.C. Internazionale Milano
Football Club Internazionale Milano, often referred to as Internazionale or simply Inter, is a professional Italian football club based in Milan, Italy. Outside Italy, the club is often called Inter Milan. They are the reigning FIFA Club World champions and Coppa Italia holders.Inter have always...

 (who had managed to lure his team mate Paul Ince
Paul Ince
Paul Emerson Carlyle Ince is an English football manager and a former professional player. He has managed Blackburn Rovers, Milton Keynes Dons and Macclesfield Town...

 to Italy that year).

Even after signing his new contract, Cantona was frustrated by the terms of his ban, and on 8 August handed in a request for his contract to be terminated as he no longer wanted to play football in England. The request was turned down and two days later, following a meeting in Paris with Alex Ferguson, he declared that he would remain at the club.

In 2011, Cantona admitted that the infamous attack on the Crystal Palace supporter was "a great feeling" and a memory he is happy for fans to treasure.
1995–96 season

In his comeback game against Liverpool
Liverpool F.C.
Liverpool Football Club is an English Premier League football club based in Liverpool, Merseyside. Liverpool has won eighteen League titles, second most in English football, seven FA Cups and a record seven League Cups...

 on 1 October 1995, Cantona set up a goal for Nicky Butt
Nicky Butt
Nicholas "Nicky" Butt is an English footballer. He began his career with Manchester United and spent 12 years in their first-team before moving to Newcastle United in 2004. He spent one season on loan to Birmingham City in 2005–06...

 two minutes into the game, and then scored a penalty after Ryan Giggs
Ryan Giggs
Ryan Joseph Giggs OBE is a Welsh professional footballer who plays for Manchester United. Giggs made his first appearance for the club during the 1990–91 season and has been a regular player since the 1991–92 season...

 was fouled. However, eight months without competitive football had taken its toll and Cantona struggled for form prior to Christmas - by 24 December, the gap between Manchester United and league leaders Newcastle United
Newcastle United F.C.
Newcastle United Football Club is an English professional association football club based in Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear. The club was founded in 1892 by the merger of Newcastle East End and Newcastle West End, and has played at its current home ground, St James' Park, since the merger...

 had increased to 10 points.

A goal by Cantona in United's league clash with West Ham United
West Ham United F.C.
West Ham United Football Club is an English professional football club based in Upton Park, Newham, East London. They play in The Football League Championship. The club was founded in 1895 as Thames Ironworks FC and reformed in 1900 as West Ham United. In 1904 the club relocated to their current...

 at Upton Park
Boleyn Ground
The Boleyn Ground, more commonly referred to as Upton Park due to its location in Upton Park, London is the football stadium of West Ham United.-History:...

 triggered a 10-match winning run in the league. Over the second half of the season, several more United games ended in 1–0 wins with Cantona scoring the only goal, though it was actually a draw (in which Cantona equalised) with Queen's Park Rangers on 9 March which saw United overtake Newcastle on goal difference. They stayed there for the rest of the season, and on the final day of the season United beat Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough F.C.
Middlesbrough Football Club , also known as Boro, are an English football club based in Middlesbrough, who play in the Football League Championship. Formed in 1876, they have played at the Riverside Stadium since August 1995, their third ground since turning professional in 1889...

 3–0 at the Riverside Stadium
Riverside Stadium
The Riverside Stadium is a football stadium in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, England, which has been the home of Middlesbrough F.C. since it opened in 1995...

 to win their third title in four seasons.

Manchester United also reached the 1996 FA Cup Final
1996 FA Cup Final
The 1996 FA Cup Final was the 51st to be held at Wembley Stadium after the Second World War and was held between two of the biggest rivals in English football, Manchester United and Liverpool.- Build-up :...

 against Liverpool
Liverpool F.C.
Liverpool Football Club is an English Premier League football club based in Liverpool, Merseyside. Liverpool has won eighteen League titles, second most in English football, seven FA Cups and a record seven League Cups...

, and with regular captain Steve Bruce missing through injury, Cantona was named as captain. He then scored the only goal of the game in the 86th minute and became the first player from outside the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

 to lift the FA Cup as captain; Manchester United became the first team to win "the double" twice.
1996–97 season

Cantona was confirmed as United's captain for the 1996–97 season following the departure of Steve Bruce
Steve Bruce
Stephen Roger "Steve" Bruce is an English football manager and former player. Born in Corbridge, Northumberland, he was a promising schoolboy footballer but was rejected by a number of professional clubs. He was on the verge of quitting the game altogether when he was offered a trial with Gillingham...

 to Birmingham City
Birmingham City F.C.
Birmingham City Football Club is a professional association football club based in the city of Birmingham, England. Formed in 1875 as Small Heath Alliance, they became Small Heath in 1888, then Birmingham in 1905, finally becoming Birmingham City in 1943.They were relegated at the end of the...

.

United retained the league in the 1996–97 season; Cantona had won four league titles in five years with United (six in seven years including those won with Marseille and Leeds United), the exception being the 1994–95 season which he had missed the second half of through suspension.

At the end of the season he announced that he was retiring from football at the age of 30. His final competitive game came against West Ham on 11 May 1997, and his final appearance before retiring was five days later on 16 May in a testimonial for David Busst
David Busst
David Busst is a former English footballer and current football community manager and coach. Busst played all of his professional career at Coventry City before suffering a broken leg during a match which ended his career. His injury is often considered as the most horrific in the history of the...

 (the player whose career had been ended by an injury suffered against United the previous year) against Coventry City at Highfield Road
Highfield Road
The Highfield Road Stadium was a football stadium in the city of Coventry, England. It was the home ground for Coventry City F.C. until the club moved to the new Ricoh Arena after the 2005-06 season...

.

Cantona scored a total of 64 league goals for Manchester United, 11 in domestic cup competitions, and 5 in the Champions League, bringing his tally to 80 goals in less than five years.
After leaving

In 1998, the Football League, as part of its centenary season celebrations, included Cantona on its list of 100 League Legends
Football League 100 Legends
The Football League 100 Legends is a list of 100 great association football players who played part or all of their professional career in English Premier season of League football...

. Cantona's achievements in the English League were further marked in 2002 when he was made an inaugural inductee of the English Football Hall of Fame
English Football Hall of Fame
The English Football Hall of Fame is housed at the National Football Museum, currently being relocated to Manchester, England. The Hall aims to celebrate and highlight the achievements of the all-time top English footballing talents, as well as non-English players and managers who have become...

.

In his 1999 autobiography Managing My Life, Alex Ferguson
Alex Ferguson
Sir Alexander Chapman "Alex" Ferguson, CBE is a Scottish association football manager and former player, currently managing Manchester United, where he has been in charge since 1986...

 claimed that Cantona had informed him of his decision to retire from playing within 24 hours of United's European exit, though the decision was not made public for almost a month afterwards. During that time, there had been speculation about his future at United, including talk of a move to Real Zaragoza
Real Zaragoza
Real Zaragoza, S.A.D. is a Spanish association football team from Zaragoza in Spain. Founded on 18 March 1932, Real Zaragoza have spent the majority of their 78 year history in the Spanish top-flight. Real Zaragoza are Spain's 9th highest ranked team in overall league points...

 of Spain.

Returning to Britain in 2003 to pick up the Overseas Player of the Decade Award at the Premier League 10 Seasons Awards
Premier League 10 Seasons Awards
The Premier League 10 Seasons Awards were a set of English football awards which marked the first 10 years of competition in the Premier League, the top-level domestic league competition of professional football in England...

, Cantona said of his premature retirement, "When you quit football it is not easy, your life becomes difficult. I should know because sometimes I feel I quit too young. I loved the game but I no longer had the passion to go to bed early, not to go out with my friends, not to drink, and not to do a lot of other things, ­the things I like in life."

In 2004, Cantona was quoted as saying, "I'm so proud the fans still sing my name, but I fear tomorrow they will stop. I fear it because I love it. And everything you love, you fear you will lose."

In 2006, The Sun
The Sun (newspaper)
The Sun is a daily national tabloid newspaper published in the United Kingdom and owned by News Corporation. Sister editions are published in Glasgow and Dublin...

 newspaper reported Cantona as saying that Manchester United had lost their soul and that the current players were a bunch of sheep. The Old Trafford idol reckoned the days of maverick entertainers like himself and George Best
George Best
George Best was a professional footballer from Northern Ireland, who played for Manchester United and the Northern Ireland national team. He was a winger whose game combined pace, acceleration, balance, two-footedness, goalscoring and the ability to beat defenders...

 were gone and feared the Red Devils were betraying their past by putting out boring, functional teams. However, on the contrary, he was interviewed in the Number 7's issue of 'United Magazine' in August 2006 stating he will only come back to Manchester United as 'Number 1' (meaning not return as assistant manager or coach) and would create a team like no other and play the way he thinks football should be played.

Cantona opposed the Glazer takeover of Manchester United, and has stated that he will not return to the club, even as a manager, while the Glazer family is in charge. This came as a disappointment to the many United fans who voted him as their choice for United's next manager in survey over the summer of 2000. At this stage, it had been expected that manager Sir Alex Ferguson would retire in 2002, but the manager later had a change of heart and is still at the helm a decade on.

However, in July 2008 it was reported by the Sunday Express that Cantona had been having second thoughts, with a close friend of Cantona's revealing: "Eric does fancy the idea of helping out with the coaching at a club like Manchester United... He has been enjoying himself appearing in and directing films and being involved in beach soccer but has always wanted to help produce a team in his style and knows that Sir Alex Ferguson would encourage him".

Despite his vow that he would never return while the Glazers remained in control of Manchester United it appears that he has mellowed over that stance.

French national team


Cantona was given his full international début against West Germany
Germany national football team
The Germany national football team is the football team that has represented Germany in international competition since 1908. It is governed by the German Football Association , which was founded in 1900....

 in August 1987 by national team manager Henri Michel
Henri Michel
-External links:...

. In September 1988, angered after being dropped from the national team, Cantona referred to Michel as a "bag of shit" in a post-match TV interview and was indefinitely banned from all international matches. However, Michel was sacked shortly after that having failed to qualify for the 1990 World Cup
1990 FIFA World Cup
The 1990 FIFA World Cup was the 14th FIFA World Cup, the quadrennial international football world championship tournament. It was held from 8 June to 8 July 1990 in Italy, the second country to host the event twice. Teams representing 116 national football associations from all six populated...

.

The new coach was Michel Platini
Michel Platini
Michel François Platini is a former French football player, manager and current president of UEFA. Platini was a member of the French national team that won the 1984 European Championship, a tournament in which he was the top goalscorer and voted the best player. He participated in the 1978, 1982...

 and one of his first acts was to recall Cantona. Platini stated that whilst he was coach, Cantona would be selected for France as long as he was playing competitive top-class football; it was Platini who had initiated Cantona's move to England to restart his career. France qualified for the 1992 European Football Championship held in Sweden, but failed to win a single game despite the striking partnership of Cantona and Jean-Pierre Papin
Jean-Pierre Papin
Jean-Pierre Papin is a former French professional football player who was European Footballer of the Year in 1991.Papin achieved his greatest success while playing for Olympique Marseille between 1986 and 1992...

. Platini resigned after the finals to be replaced by Gérard Houllier
Gérard Houllier
Gérard Houllier, OBE , is a French football manager, who was last manager of Premier League club Aston Villa. He stepped down on 1 June 2011, following hospitalisation over heart problems towards the end of the 2010-2011 season....

.

Under Houllier, France failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup
1994 FIFA World Cup
The 1994 FIFA World Cup, the 15th staging of the FIFA World Cup, was held in nine cities across the United States from June 17 to July 17, 1994. The United States was chosen as the host by FIFA on July 4, 1988...

 in the U.S. after losing the final game 2–1 at home to Bulgaria
Bulgaria national football team
The FIFA Bulgaria national football team is an association football team fielded by the Bulgarian Football Union, a member association of UEFA. The team's home ground is Vasil Levski in Sofia and Luboslav Penev is in charge manager after replacement of Lothar Matthäus...

 when a draw would have sufficed. Houllier resigned and Aimé Jacquet
Aimé Jacquet
Aimé Étienne Jacquet is a French football coach and former player, and manager of the France national football team when they won the 1998 FIFA World Cup.-Biography:...

 took over.

Jacquet began to rebuild the national team in preparation for Euro 96 and appointed Cantona as captain. Cantona remained captain until the Selhurst Park incident in January 1995. The suspension which resulted from this incident also prevented him from playing in international matches.

By the time Cantona's suspension had been completed, he had lost his role as the team's playmaker to Zinédine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Yazid Zidane is a retired French footballer. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. Zidane was a leading figure of a generation of French players that won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship...

, as Jacquet had revamped the squad with some new players. Cantona, Papin and David Ginola
David Ginola
David Karl Ginola is a French former international football player who has also worked as an actor and model.Ginola was born in Gassin, Var...

 lost their places in the squad and were never selected for the French team again, thus missing Euro 96. Though there was media criticism about Cantona's omission, as he was playing his best football in the Premier League, Jacquet stated that the team had done well without Cantona, and that he wanted to keep faith with the players who had taken them so far. The decision was vindicated as Les Bleus
France national football team
The France national football team represents the nation of France in international football. It is fielded by the French Football Federation , the governing body of football in France, and competes as a member of UEFA, which encompasses the countries of Europe...

 subsequently won the World Cup in 1998.

To this day, Cantona still harbours resentment for the people at the head of his national team but also admiration for his adopted football country; at Euro 2004 and the 2006 FIFA World Cup
2006 FIFA World Cup
The 2006 FIFA World Cup was the 18th FIFA World Cup, the quadrennial international football world championship tournament. It was held from 9 June to 9 July 2006 in Germany, which won the right to host the event in July 2000. Teams representing 198 national football associations from all six...

, he supported England and not France.

Cinema, TV and music


Cantona's subsequent career has mostly been in the French cinema, primarily as an actor although he has also directed a short film Apporte-moi ton amour in 2002; outside France, he had a role as the French ambassador in the movie Elizabeth, starring Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett
Catherine Élise "Cate" Blanchett is an Australian actress. She came to international attention for her role as Elizabeth I of England in the 1998 biopic film Elizabeth, for which she won British Academy of Film and Television Arts and Golden Globe Awards, and earned her first Academy Award...

 in 1998. He guest-starred as a mysterious bar-room philosopher in independent British film Jack Says
Jack Says
Jack Says is a 2008 British thriller film known particularly for being the last professional engagement of Mike Reid, who died shortly after filming in 2007. The film is a contemporary film noir, with comic book undertones that reflect its precursor graphic novel Jack Said, and is comparable in...

, released to DVD in September 2008. He co-starred as director Thierry Grimandi in French Film
French Film
French Film is a 2008 British comedy film directed by Jackie Oudney and starring Anne-Marie Duff, Hugh Bonneville, Victoria Hamilton, Douglas Henshall and Eric Cantona. The film was shot in Spring 2007 at various locations around London including Waterloo station and the BFI Southbank.-Plot:Two...

, and is co-producer and lead actor in Ken Loach
Ken Loach
Kenneth "Ken" Loach is a Palme D'Or winning English film and television director.He is known for his naturalistic, social realist directing style and for his socialist beliefs, which are evident in his film treatment of social issues such as homelessness , labour rights and child abuse at the...

's Palme D'or
Palme d'Or
The Palme d'Or is the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival and is presented to the director of the best feature film of the official competition. It was introduced in 1955 by the organising committee. From 1939 to 1954, the highest prize was the Grand Prix du Festival International du...

 nominated film Looking for Eric
Looking for Eric
Looking for Eric is a 2009 French/Belgium/British film about the escape from the trials of modern life that football and its heroes can bring for its fans. It was written by screen writer Paul Laverty and directed by English director Ken Loach...

 – both released in 2009.

Since retiring from professional football Cantona has appeared in numerous European television advertisements, especially for Nike
Nike, Inc.
Nike, Inc. is a major publicly traded sportswear and equipment supplier based in the United States. The company is headquartered near Beaverton, Oregon, which is part of the Portland metropolitan area...

. Cantona made cameos in two commercials, one starring the Brazilian national team playing football in an airport, and another involving the national teams of both Brazil and Portugal. In a worldwide advertising campaign during the run-up to the 2002 FIFA World Cup
2002 FIFA World Cup
The 2002 FIFA World Cup was the 17th staging of the FIFA World Cup, held in South Korea and Japan from 31 May to 30 June. It was also the first World Cup held in Asia, and the last in which the golden goal rule was implemented. Brazil won the tournament for a record fifth time, beating Germany 2–0...

, he starred as the organiser of "underground" games (branded by Nike as "Scorpion KO") between football players like Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry
Thierry Daniel Henry is a French professional footballer who plays for the New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer.Henry was born in Les Ulis, Essonne where he played for an array of local sides as a youngster and showed great promise as a goal-scorer. He was spotted by AS Monaco in 1990 and...

, Hidetoshi Nakata
Hidetoshi Nakata
, is a retired Japanese football player. He was one of the most famous Asian footballers of his generation.Nakata began his professional career in 1995 and won the Asian Football Confederation Player of the Year award in 1997 and 1998, the Scudetto with A.S...

, Francesco Totti
Francesco Totti
Francesco Totti, Ufficiale OMRI, is an Italian footballer who is the captain of Serie A club Roma. His primary position is that of a trequartista, though he has also been successfully utilized as a lone striker. Totti has spent his entire career at Roma, is the number-one goalscorer and the most...

, Ronaldo
Ronaldo
Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima , commonly known as Ronaldo, is a retired Brazilian footballer who last played for Corinthians. Ronaldo is widely considered to be the greatest 'pure' striker in the history of the modern game, and by some accounts, in the history of football. Ronaldo was one of the...

, Roberto Carlos
Roberto Carlos da Silva
Roberto Carlos da Silva Rocha , more commonly known simply as Roberto Carlos, is a player/manager who currently plays as a defensive midfielder for Russian Premier League club Anzhi Makhachkala, where he is also club captain. Carlos has spent most of his career as a left wingback but started his...

 and Luís Figo
Luís Figo
Luís Filipe Madeira Caeiro Figo, OIH, is a Portuguese former international footballer. He played as a midfielder for Sporting CP, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Internazionale, during a career which spanned over a period of 20 years. He retired from football on 31 May 2009...

. In an earlier UK Nike commercial, he appeared playing "amateur" football on Hackney Marshes
Hackney Marshes
Hackney Marshes is an area of grassland on the western bank of the River Lea in the London Borough of Hackney. It was incorporated into the Lee Valley Park in 1967...

 with other stars including Ian Wright
Ian Wright
Ian Edward Wright, MBE is a retired English footballer turned television and radio personality.Wright enjoyed success with London clubs Crystal Palace and Arsenal, spending six years with the former and seven years with the latter. With Arsenal he has lifted the Premier League title and both major...

, Steve McManaman
Steve McManaman
Steven McManaman is a retired English footballer who played as a midfielder, winger and playmaker. Having spent his playing career at two of European football's most successful clubs of the 20th century, Liverpool and Real Madrid, as well as a spell at Manchester City, McManaman is the most...

 and Robbie Fowler
Robbie Fowler
Robert Bernard Fowler is an English footballer who is currently player/manager for Thai Premier League club Muangthong United....

. In a Nike campaign in the advance of the 2006 FIFA World Cup
2006 FIFA World Cup
The 2006 FIFA World Cup was the 18th FIFA World Cup, the quadrennial international football world championship tournament. It was held from 9 June to 9 July 2006 in Germany, which won the right to host the event in July 2000. Teams representing 198 national football associations from all six...

, Cantona appears as the lead spokesman for the Joga Bonito organization, an association attempting to eliminate acting and fake play from football. He also starred in a Eurostar
Eurostar
Eurostar is a high-speed railway service connecting London with Paris and Brussels. All its trains traverse the Channel Tunnel between England and France, owned and operated separately by Eurotunnel....

 commercial in 2006 and Irish
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 EuroMillions
EuroMillions
EuroMillions is a transnational lottery, launched on 7 February 2004 by France's Française des Jeux, Spain's Loterías y Apuestas del Estado, and the United Kingdom's Camelot. The first draw was held on Friday 13 February 2004 in Paris...

 advertisement. In 2009, he featured in a British television advert for a new model of the Renault Laguna
Renault Laguna
The Renault Laguna is a large family car produced by the French manufacturer Renault. The first Laguna was launched in 1993, the second generation was launched in 2000, and the third generation was made available for sale in October 2007....

.

In 2007, he performed a spoken-word role on the album La mécanique du cœur
La mécanique du cœur
La mécanique du cœur is the sixth studio album by the French band Dionysos, released on 5 November 2007. The title can be translated as the mechanics of the heart; the album complements the book of the same name written by Mathias Malzieu, the band's frontman...

, by French rock band Dionysos
Dionysos (French band)
Dionysos is a French rock band formed in 1993 in Valence, Drôme; they formed at their lycée. They perform songs in both French and English, and have released six studio albums. They are well known in France for their surrealism and eccentricity....

.

Beach football


Shortly after his departure from Manchester United, Cantona became captain
Captain (sports)
In team sports, a captain is a title given to a member of the team. The title is frequently honorary, but in some cases the captain may have significant responsibility for strategy and teamwork while the game is in progress on the field...

 of the French national beach football
Beach soccer
Beach soccer, also known as beach football or beasal, is a variant of association football played on a beach or some form of sand. The game emphasises skill, agility and shooting at goal....

 team. Cantona has continued his interest in beach football games in southern Asia and at the Inaugural Kronenbourg
Kronenbourg
Kronenbourg Brewery is a brewery founded in 1664 by Geronimus Hatt in Strasbourg, France as the Hatt Brewery. The name comes from the area where the brewery relocated in 1850. The company is owned by the Carlsberg Group...

 Beach Soccer in 2002, in the city of Brighton
Brighton
Brighton is the major part of the city of Brighton and Hove in East Sussex, England on the south coast of Great Britain...

. He managed the French team which won the inaugural FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup
FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup
The FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup is a bi-annual international beach soccer competition contested by the national teams of the member associations of FIFA, the sport's global governing body. The tournament has taken place every year since its establishment in 1995, when it was originally supervised...

 in 2005 in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

. He also coached the 2006 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup French national team, which finished in third place. In the 2007 World Cup
2007 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup
The 2007 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup was the third edition of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, governed by FIFA. Previous editions before 2005 were not governed by FIFA and were held under the title Beach Soccer World Championships. Overall this was the thirteenth edition of the World Cup since...

 Cantona was again successful, taking France to fourth place. The Cup was held in France for the first time in the 2008 World Cup
2008 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup
The 2008 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup was the fourth edition of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, governed by FIFA. Previous editions before 2005 were not governed by FIFA and were held under the title Beach Soccer World Championships. Overall this was the fourteenth edition of the World Cup since...

; however, Cantona was unable to make the top four after losing to Italy
Italy national beach soccer team
The Italy national beach soccer team represents Italy in international beach soccer competitions and is controlled by the Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio, the governing body for football in Italy.-Current squad:Correct as of August 2011...

 in the quarter finals.

Return to football in 2011



The New York Cosmos
New York Cosmos (2010)
The New York Cosmos are an American soccer club based in New York City. The team was formed in August 2010 by a consortium led by English businessman Paul Kemsley, and aspires to become a franchise of Major League Soccer, the top professional soccer league in the United States of America and Canada...

 announced the Frenchman's return to football as their Director of Soccer on 18 January 2011. On arrival, Cantona described his role to the press as to help Cosmos "regain the number one position in the United States and then...to become one of the best clubs in the world over the coming years."

Political views


Cantona has called for a social revolution against the banks and encouraged customers of the major retail banks to withdraw their money on 7 December 2010 in protest at the global financial crisis. This proposal then became the base for an online campaign calling for a bank run
Bank run
A bank run occurs when a large number of bank customers withdraw their deposits because they believe the bank is, or might become, insolvent...

.

Club

Club Season League Cup League Cup Europe Other Total
AppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoals
Auxerre
AJ Auxerre
Association de la Jeunesse Auxerroise is a French association football club based in the commune of Auxerre in Burgundy. The club was founded in 1905 and currently play in Ligue 1, the top division of French football. Auxerre plays its home matches at the Stade l'Abbé-Deschamps on the banks of the...

1983–84 2 0 2 0
1984–85 5 2 5 2
1985–86 7 0 1 0 8 0
Martigues
FC Martigues
FC Martigues play in the Championnat National, which is the third level of football in France. The club was formed in 1921 and played regional football until the early 1970s when the club gained promotion to the professional Second Division.The club's greatest achievement was winning promotion to...

 (loan)
1985–86 15 4 15 4
Total 154|–|–154
Auxerre
AJ Auxerre
Association de la Jeunesse Auxerroise is a French association football club based in the commune of Auxerre in Burgundy. The club was founded in 1905 and currently play in Ligue 1, the top division of French football. Auxerre plays its home matches at the Stade l'Abbé-Deschamps on the banks of the...

1986–87 36 13 36 13
1987–88 32 8 5 1 2 1 39 10
Total 822351|–9025
Marseille
Olympique de Marseille
Olympique de Marseille is a French association football club based in Marseille. Founded in 1899, the club plays in Ligue 1 and have spent most of its history in the top tier of French football. Marseille have been French champions nine times and have won the Coupe de France a record ten times. In...

1988–89 22 5 22 5
Bordeaux
FC Girondins de Bordeaux
Football Club des Girondins de Bordeaux is a French association football club based in the city of Bordeaux. The club currently play in Ligue 1, the first division of French football, and won its last Ligue 1 title in the 2008–09 season....

 (loan)
1988–89 11 6 11 6
Total 116|–|–116
Montpellier
Montpellier HSC
Montpellier Hérault Sport Club is a French association football club based in the city of Montpellier. The club was founded in 1919 and currently plays in Ligue 1, the top level of French football. Montpellier plays its home matches at the Stade de la Mosson, located within the city...

 (loan)
1989–90 33 10 8 8 41 18
Total 331088|–Marseille
Olympique de Marseille
Olympique de Marseille is a French association football club based in Marseille. Founded in 1899, the club plays in Ligue 1 and have spent most of its history in the top tier of French football. Marseille have been French champions nine times and have won the Coupe de France a record ten times. In...

1990–91 18 8 5 1 3 1 26 10
Total 401351|–4815
Nîmes
Nîmes Olympique
Nîmes Olympique is a French association football club based in Nîmes. The club was formed on 10 April 1937 and currently play in Championnat National, the third level of French football. The club's only achievement was winning Ligue 2 in 1950 and the Championnat National in 1997...

1991–92 17 2 2 2 19 4
Total 17222|–Leeds United
Leeds United A.F.C.
Leeds United Association Football Club are an English professional association football club based in Beeston, Leeds, West Yorkshire, who play in the Football League Championship, the second tier of the English football league system...

1991–92 15 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 15 3
1992–93 13 6 0 0 1 0 5 1 1 3 20 10
Total 289001051133513
Manchester United
Manchester United F.C.
Manchester United Football Club is an English professional football club, based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, that plays in the Premier League. Founded as Newton Heath LYR Football Club in 1878, the club changed its name to Manchester United in 1902 and moved to Old Trafford in 1910.The 1958...

1992–93 22 9 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 23 9
1993–94 34 18 5 4 5 1 4 2 1 0 49 25
1994–95 21 12 1 1 0 0 2 0 1 1 25 14
1995–96 30 14 7 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 38 19
1996–97 36 11 3 0 0 0 10 3 1 1 50 15
Total 143641710611653218582
Career total 36913136227127845432161

International


>
1987 3 1
1988 2 0
1989 4 3
1990 7 6
1991 4 2
1992 9 2
1993 7 5
1994 8 1
1995 1 0
Total 45 20

Club


Marseille
  • Division 1
    Ligue 1
    Ligue 1 , is the French professional league for association football clubs. It is the country's primary football competition and serves as the top division of the French football league system. Ligue 1 is one of two divisions making up the Ligue de Football Professionnel, the other being Ligue 2....

     (2): 1988–89, 1990–91


Montpellier
  • Coupe de France
    Coupe de France
    The Coupe Charles Simon, commonly known as the Coupe de France , is the premier knockout cup competition in French football organized by the French Football Federation...

     (1): 1989–90


Leeds United
  • Football League First Division
    Football League First Division
    The First Division was a division of The Football League between 1888 and 2004 and the highest division in English football until the creation of the Premier League in 1992. The secondary tier in English football has since become known as the Championship....

     (1): 1991–92
  • Charity Shield
    FA Community Shield
    The Football Association Community Shield is English football's annual match contested between the champions of the previous Premier League season and the holders of the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium. If the Premier League champions also won the FA Cup then the league runners-up provide the opposition...

     (1): 1992
    1992 FA Charity Shield
    The 1992 FA Charity Shield was the 70th Charity Shield, a football match contested by the winners of the previous season's Football League and FA Cup competitions...



Manchester United
  • Premier League (4): 1992–93, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1996–97
  • FA Cup
    FA Cup
    The Football Association Challenge Cup, commonly known as the FA Cup, is a knockout cup competition in English football and is the oldest association football competition in the world. The "FA Cup" is run by and named after The Football Association and usually refers to the English men's...

     (2): 1993–94, 1995–96
    1996 FA Cup Final
    The 1996 FA Cup Final was the 51st to be held at Wembley Stadium after the Second World War and was held between two of the biggest rivals in English football, Manchester United and Liverpool.- Build-up :...

  • Charity Shield
    FA Community Shield
    The Football Association Community Shield is English football's annual match contested between the champions of the previous Premier League season and the holders of the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium. If the Premier League champions also won the FA Cup then the league runners-up provide the opposition...

     (3): 1993
    1993 FA Charity Shield
    The 1993 FA Charity Shield was the 71st FA Charity Shield, an annual football match played between the winners of the previous season's Premier League and FA Cup competitions. The match was played on 7 August 1993 at Wembley Stadium and contested by Manchester United, who had won the 1992–93...

    , 1994
    1994 FA Charity Shield
    The 1994 FA Charity Shield was the 72nd FA Charity Shield, an annual football match played between the winners of the previous season's Premier League and FA Cup competitions...

    , 1996
    1996 FA Charity Shield
    The 1996 FA Charity Shield was the 74th FA Charity Shield, an annual football match played between the winners of the previous season's Premier League and FA Cup competitions...


Individual

  • Ballon D'or 3rd Place 1993
  • PFA Players' Player of the Year
    PFA Players' Player of the Year
    The Professional Footballers' Association Players' Player of the Year is an annual award given to the player who is adjudged to have been the best of the year in English football...

     (1): 1993–94
  • FWA Footballer of the Year (1): 1995–96
  • Premier League Player of the Month
    Premier League Player of the Month
    The Player of the Month is an association football award that recognises the best Premier League player each month of the season. The recipient is chosen by a panel assembled by the League's sponsor, and announced alongside the Manager of the Month on the first or second Friday of the following month...

     (1): March 1996
  • Premier League 10 Seasons Awards
    Premier League 10 Seasons Awards
    The Premier League 10 Seasons Awards were a set of English football awards which marked the first 10 years of competition in the Premier League, the top-level domestic league competition of professional football in England...

     (1992–93 to 2001–02)
    • Overseas Team of the Decade
    • Overseas Player of the Decade

Family


Cantona was married to Isabelle Ferrer, they have two children; Raphael (born 1988) and Josephine (born 1995). He is now married to actress Rachida Brakni
Rachida Brakni
Rachida Brakni is a French actress of Algerian origin. She is married to the football hero turned film actor Eric Cantona, whom she met on the filmset of Outremangeur in 2002....

.

Cantona's brother, Joël
Joël Cantona
Joël Cantona is a French former footballer, and brother of Eric Cantona. Since retiring he has also had some minor acting roles.-External links:*...

, was also a professional footballer who played for Olympique de Marseille
Olympique de Marseille
Olympique de Marseille is a French association football club based in Marseille. Founded in 1899, the club plays in Ligue 1 and have spent most of its history in the top tier of French football. Marseille have been French champions nine times and have won the Coupe de France a record ten times. In...

, Újpesti TE
Újpest FC
Újpest Football Club , earlier known as Újpesti TE and Újpesti Dózsa, is a Hungarian football club, based in Újpest, Budapest. The club's colours are purple and white...

 and Stockport County. Like Cantona, Joël has retired from football and is now an actor.

His cousin, Sacha Opinel
Sacha Opinel
Sacha Opinel is a French professional footballer who was last attached to Harlow Town and played as a defender...

, currently plays for Farnborough F.C. in the Southern League Premier Division.

Partial filmography

  • Le bonheur est dans le pré
    Happiness is in the field
    Happiness Is in the Field is a French comedy directed by Étienne Chatiliez in 1995.- Plot :Francis Bergeade, owner of a toilet seats and brushes' factory in Dole, just turned 65 and his life is a misery. Tax services are harassing him, his snobby wife Nicole despises him and his daughter whimsily...

     – 1995 – Lionel
  • Eleven Men Against Eleven – 1995 – Player (uncredited)
  • Elizabeth
    Elizabeth (film)
    Elizabeth is a 1998 biographical film written by Michael Hirst, directed by Shekhar Kapur, and starring Cate Blanchett in the title role of Queen Elizabeth I of England, alongside Geoffrey Rush, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Fiennes, Sir John Gielgud, Fanny Ardant and Richard Attenborough...

     – 1998 – Monsieur de Foix
  • Mookie – 1998 – Antoine Capella
  • Les enfants du marais – 1999 – Jo Sardi
  • La grande vie! (English title: The High Life) – 2001 – Joueur de pétanque 2
  • L'Outremangeur (English title: The Overeater
    The Overeater
    The Overeater is a 2003 French-language film directed by Thierry Binisti and starring former footballer Éric Cantona.-Plot introduction:...

    ) – 2003 – Séléna
  • Les Clefs de bagnole (English title: The Car Keys) – 2003
  • La vie est à nous – 2005
  • Une belle histoire – 2005
  • Lisa et le pilote d'avion – 2007
  • Le Deuxième souffle (English title: Second Wind) – 2007
  • Jack Says
    Jack Says
    Jack Says is a 2008 British thriller film known particularly for being the last professional engagement of Mike Reid, who died shortly after filming in 2007. The film is a contemporary film noir, with comic book undertones that reflect its precursor graphic novel Jack Said, and is comparable in...

     – 2008
  • French Film
    French Film
    French Film is a 2008 British comedy film directed by Jackie Oudney and starring Anne-Marie Duff, Hugh Bonneville, Victoria Hamilton, Douglas Henshall and Eric Cantona. The film was shot in Spring 2007 at various locations around London including Waterloo station and the BFI Southbank.-Plot:Two...

     – 2009
  • Looking for Eric – 2009
  • Face au paradis (English title: Faced with Paradise) – 2010 (Stage production directed by Rachida Brakni
    Rachida Brakni
    Rachida Brakni is a French actress of Algerian origin. She is married to the football hero turned film actor Eric Cantona, whom she met on the filmset of Outremangeur in 2002....

    )
  • Switch - 2011

External links