Cantona: Eric's ill-fated Marseille homecoming
It has been 30 years since Eric Cantona joined Manchester United from bitter rivals Leeds, soon to be aptly nicknamed 'King Eric' by the Old Trafford faithful.
A man that once was the face of bitter rivals Leeds United was now leading their fierce foes to domestic dominance. Quite a fitting narrative for a career that has had it all.
Cantona's road to royalty has not been without its bumps, though, most notably during his turbulent time for Marseille after signing for the French club in 1988.
While success was instantaneous upon his transfer to United, the story reads differently for his time at Marseille just four years prior.
It would take the man in the spotlight six games before he would score his first goal for his new club, subsequently resulting in him being left out of the French national squad the following day, having being met with public criticism from then-coach Henri Michel. After declaring that he would not play for Les Blues for as long as Michel was at the helm, Cantona faced a year-long ban from the squad that a private nor public apology could prevent.
"Eric has always had a very strong personality," said former Marseille teammate Bruno Germain.
"He trained with great joy, wanted to work and always aimed to progress and develop himself. He had to, because we had an excellent team and competition was hard and fierce.
"When he arrived the club were starting to bloom and develop big ambitions - Eric's signing showed that. Everybody felt he could do something great at Marseille because he was talented, but there was a lot of pressure and expectation on him."
The Stade Velodrome never quite welcomed Cantona back with open arms, and he would spend the following season on loan at Montpellier. This stint wasn't plain sailing either, as tensions rose and tempers flared in his temporary dressing room.
Successful short-term spells away from Marseille would see them eventually recall him, and reconciliation began with seven goals in 12 games. But when he was sidelined with an injury, and new manager Raymond Goethals took the reins, Cantona's eventual departure was all but fated.
Eric the iconGallery
On 18 May 1997, King Cantona shocked the world by announcing his retirement and ending a legendary career.
"We all felt that Eric could be explosive every single moment he was around the manager, and in the end he just did not give a damn about Goethals. He made some mistakes but it was difficult for Eric, especially at such a young age.
"It was best for him to start again, from scratch."
While that move didn't quite provide him with the second chance saloon he had in mind, Leeds United would offer him a route back into football as The King embarked on a journey to England.
But Elland Road was to be a footnote in Cantona's long, illustrious career as he would sign for United less than a year later. And, as the saying goes, the rest is history.