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"The cameras tracked his every move from the tunnel to out on the pitch as the fans worshipped their idol in a manner rarely seen before and since."

More: 12 Days of Cantona | Kanchelskis praises Cantona

02/12/2012 10:38, Report by Adam Marshall
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The return of the King

The pressure was on Eric Cantona like never before ahead of his eagerly-anticipated return against Liverpool on 1 October 1995.

Old Trafford prepared to shower affection on the much-missed maverick with his extended suspension, 248 days and all, finally drawing to a close but many wondered if the temperamental talisman would ever change his ways.

Chairman Martin Edwards warned: "Cantona is a wonderful player but, if there is any recurrence of unacceptable behaviour, that is the end. We have stood by him and we can only hope he appreciates that fact. He knows what we think of him. He has a new three-year contract and a new start with us. It is up to him now - we are all holding our breath."

United legend Sir Bobby Charlton had his say on the great comeback and also seemed wary of what might follow from the unpredictable No7.

"I don't think anybody can believe he is going to be perfect or anything like a Saint," he stated. "But we have to hope he has learned a lot from his experience. He loves to play and I don't believe he will want to be put out of the game again.

"But who knows? He perpetrated a terrible crime as a footballer and we can't avoid that fact. But we're all excited that he's coming back. He's an absolute pleasure to watch when he's performing to the peak of his ability. I am not on tenterhooks about his return but I am prepared for anything."

Even Alex Ferguson seemed to have his doubts after needing to travel to Paris to convince his striker to remain at the club when the FA were unhappy with his appearance in a practice game during the ban. "I hope my reputation doesn't have to be judged on Eric Cantona's life with Manchester United," he conceded. "If that is to be the only blip in my career, I'll accept it and go to the big penalty box in the sky quite happy. In fact, very happy."

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