Eric Cantona.

Biography

“Le Roi”.“Le Dieu”. Or good old – but never, ever, plain old – Eric. Whatever you want to call Monsieur Cantona, the Frenchman’s four-and-a-half seasons at Old Trafford are the stuff of legend.

No.7 shirt collar as stiffly upright as if it had been starched, that imperious look, theatrical swagger and poise, Eric Cantona was born to play for Manchester United – and, even better, he was pinched from across the Pennines to do so.The wandering ‘enfant terrible’ of French football, despite title success with Marseille in 1991 and close on a half-century of caps for his country, Cantona had famously ‘retired’ from the game at 25 when a trial with Sheffield Wednesday alerted the attentions of Leeds United boss Howard Wilkinson, eager to bolster his side’s flagging title fortunes for the 1991/92 run-in. Enough said about that…Astonishingly, given his success in Yorkshire and a Charity Shield hat-trick against Liverpool during the 1992/93 curtain raiser, Sir Alex Ferguson’s enquiry as to whether the mercurial Frenchman might be for sale was met with a nod in December. A £1.2 million deal – no, that’s not a misprint – was promptly done, and Cantona went to work. The next four-and-a-half seasons would see him stamp his name indelibly on the club’s history, his heart and soul seemingly in tandem with it: his prophetic pronouncements, his pure, well, Frenchness, finding a spiritual home on the turf where George Best had strutted his stuff so majestically two decades earlier. The missing piece in the long-awaited championship jigsaw, Cantona’s nine goals in 22 league games helped bring home the inaugural Premiership trophy of 1992/93.With his probing presence, United would fail to win the trophy just once in the following four campaigns, Cantona leading scorer in two and second in the other. It wasn’t just his technical ability that fired the imagination, it was his talismanic qualities. He led by example, defiant, never giving in. It was a three-way relationship between player, team-mate and fans – if he thought it was possible, so did you.When the FA threw the book at him with a nine-month ban in the 1994/95 season following his infamous Kung-Fu spat with a Crystal Palace fan at Selhurst Park, Cantona retained his dignity and did his 120 hours’ community service with no complaints. And of course, he scored on his return – against the old enemy Liverpool in October, netting a penalty to salvage a point at Old Trafford. With Cantona orchestrating the talents of a young David Beckham and Ryan Giggs, and Roy Keane in his pomp as midfield general, United proved irresistible in 1995/96. Cantona led the way with 19 goals in all competitions, one of four men to reach double figures. He scored in six consecutive Premiership games through March and April as United faced down the faltering challenge of Newcastle United to take the title. And it was Cantona again, firing through a crowd scene at Wembley, to see off Liverpool in the FA Cup final to complete a second Double in three seasons. That season was the pinnacle of his time at Old Trafford.At the end of the 1996/97, another title in the bag, but with the disappointment of a European semi-final exit proving a tough cross to bear, he exited stage left. His deeds burn brightly and will never fade. Vive la resistance!

Read Less About Eric Cantona
  • Position

    Forward

  • Country

    France

  • Date of birth

  • Joined

  • United debut

    v Man City (H) League

  • Left United

Latest

Eric Cantona in action against QPR

Goal of the Day: The King’s Peach Article

Our latest strike comes courtesy of Eric Cantona, who helped us fight back against QPR on the way to the title in 93/94.

Cantona's rabona kick-off against Liverpool video

🎥 #TBT to the day Eric kicked off against Liverpool with a Rabona...

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Inside United editor Ben Ashby interviewed The King for the magazine's November edition 📸

Cantona receiving an award in Monaco.

The inspiration behind Cantona's speech Article

During his appearance in Norway, Eric explained why he decided to quote Shakespeare at a recent UEFA ceremony.

When Inside United went looking for Eric Article

The editor of our monthly magazine tells the story of his journey to Norway to secure an interview with Mr Cantona.

Eric Cantona.

Classic Match: Return of the King video

On this day in 1995, Eric Cantona returned from a lengthy suspension and scored a vital penalty against Liverpool...

Eric Cantona.

Read Cantona's epic speech in full Article

Everyone is talking about Eric after the United legend stole the show when collecting his UEFA President's award.

Eric Cantona.

United Greats: Eric Cantona video

The latest edition of Inside United features an exclusive interview with a certain club legend...

How Cantona reacted to PSG 1 United 3 video

See how The King reacted to another famous European night in United history...

Juan Mata and Eric Cantona.

When Mata met Cantona Article

Juan told us all about meeting King Eric for the first time in person earlier this week.

Seven of Cantona's best goals video

This Christmas, we're giving the gift of Cantona! So here are are seven of Eric's classic goals...

Old Trafford.

This week: Six games for four teams Article

From Monday to Sunday, here's our guide to all the games and other notable events involving the Reds.

Eric Cantona scores against Liverpool in his comeback game.

Revealed: Our greatest penalty taker Article

We've had many spot-kick experts in the Premier League era - but which of them was the most reliable?

Eric Cantona at a George Best mural in Belfast.
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Eric's in Belfast... paying tribute to another legendary United no.7! 🙌

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