Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughA look back in time - Eric Cantona - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough A look back in time - Eric Cantona - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

A look back in time – Eric Cantona

An enigma? Charismatic? Troubled? Or just special?

There have been many words to describe Eric Cantona throughout his career and not all nice either. A troubled career in France led to the striker to fly across the channel and despite winning a championship with Leeds, it wasn’t until he came under the wings of Sir Alex Ferguson did he truly flourish.

After a mixed French career with Auxerre, Marseille, Nimes and loan spells with Bordeux and Montpellier, he moved to Leeds where he was quickly taken to by the Leeds fans. Nine goals in 28 games and several impressive performances later and he was a champion in England for the first time.

The story with how he ended up at Old Trafford is a funny one. Leeds had come after Dennis Irwin and whilst Martin Edwards was fielding the call, Sir Alex was in the room with him and encouraged Edwards to make a cheeky request for Cantona and the rest as they say was history.

And what history it became.

Cantona became the missing player that everyone knew was needed. Fergie had been after a striker and Cantona became an instant legend. He scored nine goals in 22 games and his performances almost by himself led United to winning the league by ten points after a poor start to the season.

The next season was his stand out year. 24 goals in 49 appearances and another league title for the Frenchman making it four in a row for him. But it was also a year of firsts for Cantona. He won his first FA Cup and for the first donned the No.7 shirt one that would become synonymous with the Manchester United faithful.

The 1994-1995 season served to show how important the great man was to United. A moment of madness is the only way it can be described. A six month ban would follow for the kung-fu kick on a Crystal Palace fan who was heckling him through the game. But what followed would be one of the best press conferences ever seen.

A packed out room ready to hear his first talk since his suspension were too be left dumfounded as this is what he said:

“When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea”.

He then stood up thanked everyone and then left. It was a typical Cantona moment and to anyone who knew they wouldn’t have been surprised. United wouldn’t win the league that year.

Only two more years followed and he returned from his ban with a vengeance. The 1995-96 season ended up with 19 goals in 38 games and another league and cup double. The catalyst of the season was Cantona’s return. At one point United were ten points behind Newcastle, but after several 1-0 wins with Cantona being the difference they overtook the toon by March and never relinquished the position.

The 96-97 season would end up being his last but a successful one once again. He took over the captaincy from Steve Bruce showing the improvement in his temperament under the tutelage of Sir Alex. United retained the title and that would be it for Cantona. He retired at the age of just 30 and would never play again.

Some saw Cantona’s career as a wasteful one. They felt he could’ve done great things with France, but disputes with management left him on the sidelines far more than he and supporters would have liked.

But for Manchester United he became a great. Four titles in five seasons had made United unstoppable. He had helped turn United into a force again and was arguably one of Sir Alex’s most inspired signings.

On the 6th of December 1992, Eric Cantona made his debut against Manchester City. Five years later he left as ‘The King’.