Eric Cantona (born 24 May 1966) is a retired French international footballer. He played for Auxerre, Martigues, Marseille, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nîmes, Leeds United and Manchester United.
Started his career at local side SO Caillolais where he started as a keeper before moving forward.
His first professional club was Auxerre.
Career in France
Made his debut in November 1983 against Nancy.
Put his football career on hold while he completed his national service.
When Cantona returned to football, he joined second division side Martigues on loan.
Signed a new contract in 1986 following some impressive performances in the first division.
Fined in 1987 for punching teammate Bruno Martini in the face.
A year later he recived a three-month suspension for a dangerous kung-fu tackle on Nantes player Michel Der Zakarian. The ban was later reduced to a two month suspension.
Joined hometown club Marseille for a French record fee (FF22m).
Banned for a month in January 1989 after he kicked the ball at the crowd, then ripped off and threw away his shirt after being substituted.
Won the Ligue 1 title in 1989.
Moved to Bordeaux on a six-month loan after failing to settle at Marselle.
Spend the following season on loan at Montpellier.
Had another fight with teammate Jean-Claude Lemoult. As a result six players wanted Cantona sacked but senior players such as Laurent Blanc and Carlos Valderrama showed support and he was banned for ten days.
Won the French Cup and returned to Marseille.
Clashed with new Marselle manager Raymond Goethals.
Won the Ligue 1 title in 1991.
Joined Nîmes where he was in trouble again, this time for Cantona threw the ball at the referee. This resulted in a one month ban.
This was later increased to two months after Cantona walked up to each member of the hearing committee and called them idiots.
Announced his retirement from football in December 1991.
He was later persuaded by France manager Michel Platini to make a comeback. On the advice of Gérard Houllier, he moved to England to restart his career.
Move to England
Liverpool manager Graeme Souness turned down the chance to sign Cantona in 1991.
Had a trial at Sheffield Wednesday but the newly promoted club could not afford to sign him.
Joined Leeds in 1992 for £900,000 and won the League Title.
Won the Charity Shield and scored a hat-trick in the win over Liverpool in August 1992.
Scored the first ever hat-trick in the newly branded Premier League against Tottenham.
A phone call from Leeds chairman Bill Fotherby to Manchester United chairman Martin Edwards to enquire if Denis Irwin was for sale lead to Manchester United asking the same question about Cantona.
Leeds were told Irwin was not for sale but Cantona joined Manchester United for £1.2 million a few days later.
Made his first appearance for Manchester United in a friendly wearing the number 10 shirt.
Came on as a substitute against Manchester City to mak his competitive debut in December 1992.
Scored his first Manchester United goal against Chelsea a few weeks later.
Won the Premier League, Manchester United’s first for 26 years. This also made Cantona the first player to win consecutive English top division titles with different clubs.
It was also his third consecutive title as he won the league with Marselle in 1991.
Won the league and cup double the following season, ending the season as top scorer with 26 goals in all competitions.
Voted the 1993-94 PFA Player of the Year.
Beat Blackburn Rovers to win the Charity Shield in 1994.
Sent off against Crystal Palace and launched the now infamous ‘kung-fu’ style kick on a fan.
Cantona faced criminal charge of assault and was given a two-week prison sentence, although this was overturned on appeal and instead he was sentenced to 120 hours of community service.
He was also banned from all football matches for eight months.
During his ban he was linked with a number of clubs, mainly Inter Milan.
Cantona returned from his ban with a goal and an assist against Liverpool in October 1995.
United completed their second league and cup double in 1996 with Cantona scoring the winning goal in the cup final against Liverpool.
Made Manchester United captain for the 1996-97 season.
United again won the league in the that season, meaning Cantona had won four league titles in five years with the team, and six in seven years including those won with Marseille and Leeds United.
Announced his retirement from football aged 30 at the end of the season.
Cantona said he ws leaving football to pursue a career in acting. Cantona played the lead role and was co-producer in the 2009 Ken Loach film Looking for Eric.
Became captain of the French national beach football team.
Made Director of Soccer for the New York Cosmos in January 2011. He was later fired from this position after a confrontation with a photographer.
Made an inaugural inductee of the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
Made his international debut against West Germany in August 1987.
Won the 1988 Under-21 European Championship.
Banned from international matches in 1989 for one year after insulting France Manager Henri Michel on TV.
Appointed France captain in 1994.
Stripped of the captaincy following the ‘kung-fu’ kick incident.
Once his suspension had been completed, he had lost his role as the team’s playmaker to Zinedine Zidane and he never played for France again.
His brother, Joël Cantona, was also a professional footballer who played for Marseille, Újpesti TE and Stockport County.
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