One of the most flamboyant players ever to play the game, Eric Cantona’s antics
off the field often seem to outshine his brilliance on the field. Eric’s career started
with the small French side Auxerre, and from there he moved on to first division
team Marseille for a fee of £2.3 million.
It was during his stay at Marseille that Eric’s temper began to surface. Having been
substituted in a friendly against Torpedo Moscow, Eric ripped off his jersey and threw
it to the ground in disgust. Marseille imposed a short ban for his actions.
Around the same time, Eric found himself banned form the French National Team for
insulting the coach on French TV. It wasn’t until Michel Platini took over that Eric was
asked to play once again for Les Bleus.
Not long after all this, Eric was loaned to Bordeaux, but he moved on to Montpeiller,
where he had one of his best seasons, helping the club win the French Cup. The
following year he returned to Marseille, however injuries kept him sidelined, and once
again he found himself at another club, this time Nimes. Troubles followed him, and
while at Nimes Eric found himself called before the French Football Association for
throwing a ball at a referee during a match. When the French FA handed him a one
month ban for his actions, Eric called them all idiots and the FA raised the ban to 2 months.
This didn’t sit well with the spirited Cantona, and he decided in retaliation to retire early
from the game that he loved.
Retirement didn’t last long as Eric was convinced to come out of retirement and
move to England. Refusing a tryout with Sheffield Wednesday, he joined Leeds,
and in his second year with the team helped them win the league title. Ironically,
Eric found it hard to remain in the first team with Leeds and soon found himself
offloaded to Manchester United where his legendary status continued to grow.
He helped lead Man United to championship after championship. It was with Man
United that he made his biggest mistake – the legendary “Kung Fu” kick.
In a 1995 game against Crystal Palace, Eric ran into the stands and kicked a fan for
shouting racial slurs at him. He was dealt a heavy fine and sentenced to serve 120
hours of community service plus a 9-month ban from the game. Eventually Eric
rejoined Man United and helped them win several more championships, but his
retirement in 96-97 surprised everyone. Many people felt he could have played
many more years.
In 2001 he was voted Manchester United’s player of the century, and to this day
United fans refer to him as “King Eric”.
He then embarked on an acting career, starring in movies such as Elizabeth.
He is currently playing/managing the French National Beach Soccer team.
Eric owns a shareholding stake in Partouche-Betting.com.
Makes professional debut for Auxerre
1985: Loaned to Martigues after making just 13
appearances and scoring two goals in three seasons for
1986: Returned to Auxerre and over the next two
seasons made 68 appearances and scored 21 goals.
1987: Receives heavy fine for punching his team’s
goalkeeper, giving him a black eye. Makes his debut for France against West Germany.
1988: Joins Marseille in French record £2.3 million
deal. Banned from French team for one year after swearing at national coach Henri Michel .
1989: Suspended indefinitely by Marseille after
kicking the ball into the crowd and throwing his shirt at a referee after being substituted.
Joins Bordeaux on loan, then moves to Montpellier for ?00,000.
1990: Banned by Montpellier for 10 days after smashing
his boots into the face of team-mate Jean Claude Lemoult. Returns to Marseille.
1991: Signs for Nimes but is banned for three games
after throwing the ball at a referee. At the disciplinary hearing, he walks up to each
committee member and says: “Idiot”. His ban is increased to two months, so Cantona
responds by announcing his retirement from soccer.
1992: Comes out of retirement for a trial with
Sheffield Wednesday, but walks out after being asked to remain for a further week and
joins Leeds for £00,000. Helps the Elland Road side win the League title before moving to
Manchester United in £1.2million deal.
1993: Fined ?,000 by the FA for spitting at a Leeds fan in his first game back at Elland Road with Manchester United, whom he then helps to the
Premiership title. Sent off in United’s European Cup defeat by Galatasaray in Istanbul,
Turkey, for accusing the referee of cheating, scuffles with Turkish police and is banned
by UEFA for four European games.
1994: Scores two goals in the 4-0 FA Cup final
over Chelsea as United complete the League and Cup double. Voted PFA Player of the Year.
1995: Sent off at Crystal Palace on January 25
after a Kung-Fu kick at fan Matthew Simmons. His actions lead to him being banned
from all football until September 30 and fined ?0,000 by the FA. A two-week prison
sentence for the offence is varied on appeal to 120 hours of community service.
Returns to action on October 1 and scores a penalty in a 2-2 draw against Liverpool.
1996: Voted Footballer of the Year by the Football
Writers Association and scores winning goal in FA Cup final against Liverpool as United
complete the double for the second time in three seasons.
1997: Member of a championship-winning side for
the fifth time in six seasons but a week after the Premiership finale, announces his
retirement from professional soccer at the age of 30.