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Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King

Wed, Sep 9, 2009

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Many have tried to persuade Eric Cantona to write his autobiography. He never will. Philippe Auclair has interviewed every key player in Cantona’s life to produce a biography that reveals, for the first time, the heart and inner thoughts of this most extraordinary character. Cantona played for six different French clubs, making his international debut at twenty-one, before coming to England in 1992 and making an immediate impact with Leeds United. He transformed the team but became even more talismanic when he moved to Manchester United, where to this day Manchester United fans refer to him as ‘King Eric’. Eric Cantona graced the Premiership like few others and he remains a deeply compelling figure to anyone who cares remotely about football.

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‘The most rounded portrait of the United legend yet published…United fans will miss Cantona even more once they have dived into Auclair’s excellent biography…. But where this book breaks new ground is in tracing the career-long battle between Cantona the sportsman and the frustrated, perfection-seeking artist.’ The Times

‘A very French book about a brilliant anglophile French footballer, written by a very good anglophile French journalist. It takes its subject seriously and asks that you do the same. It is clearly, for the author, a labour of love rather than a quick-buck hagiography — a fascinating portrait of an exquisitely talented and intelligent but also petulant and arrogant man who illuminated and perhaps changed for ever the British game: Eric Cantona.’ Rod Liddle, The Sunday Times

‘[A] brilliant dissection [that] grabs the reader by the lapels, or in an affectionate embrace, as one’s sympathies alternately swing towards Cantona and then violently away from him. Cantona’s playing career and football abilities can be accompanied by a roaring soundtrack of fans, managers and players. Everyone has an opinion. But Auclair saves his best, gentlest, most insightful whispers for his examination of Cantona the man. It is what makes this the best of the biographies.’ Glasgow Herald

‘Here, at last, is a definitive account of Cantona’s extraordinary life… A truly great book [from] an outstandingly gifted biographer’ GQ

‘An imaginative and groundbreaking book’ Kevin McCarra, Guardian

‘A tour de force, at once elegant and exhaustive…This is a book about an outstanding gifted footballer by an outstandingly accomplished journalist.’ Brian Glanville

‘For years, football biography has been the lowest form of literature. There have been occasional examples that have risen above the pit – particularly about managers – but for the most part they are the worst kind of hack-work, stitched-together cuttings jobs that are, frankly, a con, luring in the unwary buyer by virtue of the glamorous name on the cover. Philippe Auclair’s biography of Eric Cantona may just change that. It is, in the main, simply a superior example of what has gone before (although saying that is like saying that a Ferrari is a superior example of a handcart), a meticulously detailed examination of a fascinating character… But there is also a more unusual side to the book, a series of passages dotted through the text [in which] Auclair reflects on his won experiences as a Frenchman living in England, and how they relate to Cantona. He also muses – in what might be considered the most French passages – on a series of quasi-philosophical themes: what is it, for instance, that makes a great goal? Or exactly what is the interaction between fan and game? The result is a fascinating and unusual book, one that might just usher in a new age of football biography.’ Jonathan Wilson, 4-4-2 Magazine.

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3 Comments For This Post

  1. Alex Says:

    Bonjour,
    Eric Cantonna n’a certainement jamais pensé ou voulu être roi.
    A partir du moment ou l’on existe médiatiquement et, si on laisse rien de son passage il est inutile de parler ou de se faire remarquer comme un flagorneur MW.
    Merci à Eric de venir de si loin pour continuer de foncer même après avoir franchi la ligne d’arrivée. Ca s’appelle le don de soi !
    Je ne suis permis de l’ajouter sur un billet pour rappeler aux gens d’être humains.
    Chacun fait ce qu’il doit, ou ce qu’il peut à sa façon pour changer les choses et une infime partie du monde.
    Alex

  2. Oscar Gauthreaux Says:

    Thanks a million and please continue the enjoyable work. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is fantastic blog.

  3. chambon Says:

    Eric Cantona,

    ….the KING ?….ho! yes surely the KING of absolute imbeciles, the KING of pretentious NULS…..he has some reasons for that….his brain is like the desert….nothing, absolutely nothing!(I don’t speak about intelligence…he don’t understand this word)!

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