In their way stood Liverpool. But in one of the tightest cup finals in recent decades, Cantona again proved the difference, completing his own tale of personal redemption with a dramatic winner in the dying minutes. He became the first man from outside the United Kingdom and Ireland to lift the FA Cup – captaining in Steve Bruce's absence – capping one of the most magical individual seasons in English football history.
UNITED 5 SUNDERLAND 0 (1996/97)
The following season would be Eric's final one as a professional footballer. United won the title again, but our exit from Europe at the semi-final stage hit him hard. But there was still time for 15 goals, including two in this 5-0 romp over Sunderland in December 1996, which would contain one of the most famous moments in his Old Trafford career.
A first-half penalty had secured his first Premier League goal for three months and given United a healthy 2-0 lead at half-time, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made it three soon after the break with a long solo run to goal. Nicky Butt's header stretched the scoreline to 4-0 before the hour mark, but the game's standout move came just over 10 minutes from the end. Cantona picked the ball up just inside the Black Cats' half and began a jinking, dainty run towards goal. A quick interchange with Brian McClair gave him a sight of goal, and our legendary no.7 then decided to dink the most delicate chip over his compatriot Lionel Perez in the Sunderland goal. The ball seemed to hang in the air for an age, before clipping the top of Perez's right-hand post and finding the net. The stadium erupted, while Cantona simply stood there, basking in the applause, performing a non-celebration that had all the laconic cool of Hollywood's great movie stars.