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Eric Cantona
Eric Cantona Cannes 2009.jpg
Cantona at Cannes Film Festival in 2009
Born Eric Daniel Pierre Cantona[1]
24 May 1966 (age 52)[1]
Marseille, France
Occupation Actor, former professional footballer
Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Spouse(s) Isabelle Ferrer
(m. 1987; div. 2003)
Rachida Brakni (m. 2007)
Children 4
Parent(s) Albert Cantona
Éléonore Raurich
Association football career
Playing position Forward
Youth career
1980–1981 SO Les Caillols
1981–1983 Auxerre
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1983–1988 Auxerre 82 (23)
1985–1986 → Martigues (loan) 15 (4)
1988–1991 Marseille 40 (13)
1989 → Bordeaux (loan) 11 (6)
1989–1990 → Montpellier (loan) 33 (10)
1991 Nîmes 17 (2)
1992 Leeds United 28 (9)
1992–1997 Manchester United 143 (64)
Total 369 (131)
National team
1987–1995 France 45 (20)
1997–2006 France (beach)
Teams managed
1997–2011 France (beach)
2011–2012 New York Cosmos (Director of Soccer)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league
Eric Daniel Pierre Cantona (French pronunciation: [eʁik kɑ̃tona]; born
24 May 1966) is a French actor and former professional footballer. He
played at club level for Auxerre, Martigues, Marseille, Bordeaux,
Montpellier, Nîmes and Leeds United before ending his career at
Manchester United where he won four Premier League titles in five
years and two League and FA Cup Doubles. He won the league
championship in seven of his last eight full seasons as a professional. At
international level he represented the France National team.

A large, physically strong, hard-working, and tenacious forward, who

combined technical skill and creativity with power and goalscoring
ability, Cantona is often regarded as having played a key role in the
revival of Manchester United as a footballing force in the 1990s and
having an iconic status at the club.[2] He wore the number 7 shirt at
Manchester United with his trademark upturned collar.[3] Cantona is
affectionately nicknamed by Manchester United fans as "King Eric", and
was voted as Manchester United's greatest ever player by Inside United
magazine.[4] Set against his achievements in football was a poor
disciplinary record for much of his career, including a 1995 conviction
for an assault on a fan for which he received an eight-month
Following his retirement from football in 1997, he took up a career in
cinema and had a role in the 1998 film Elizabeth, starring Cate
Blanchett, the 2008 film French Film, and the 2009 film Looking for
Eric. In 2010, he debuted as a stage actor in Face au Paradis, a French
play directed by his wife, Rachida Brakni.[6] Cantona also took an
interest in the sport of beach soccer, and as player-manager of the
French national team, he won the 2005 FIFA Beach Soccer World

Known for his charismatic – and outspoken – persona, Cantona was an

inaugural inductee into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002. The
museum states: "The enigmatic Frenchman was one of the Premier
League's most controversial players ever".[3] At the Premier League 10
Seasons Awards in 2003 Cantona was voted the Overseas Player of the
Decade.[8] In 2004 he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the
world's greatest living players.[9]

1 Early life
2 Club career
2.1 Early career
2.2 France
2.3 England
2.3.1 Leeds United
2.3.2 Manchester United 1992–93 season 1993–94 season 1994–95 season, 'kung-fu' incident, ban from football 1995–96 season 1996–97 season After leaving
3 International career
3.1 Mass media
3.2 Beach soccer
3.3 Return to football in 2011
4 Political views
5 Family
6 Career statistics
6.1 Club
6.2 International
6.3 International goals
7 Honours
7.1 Club
7.2 International
7.3 Individual
8 Filmography
8.1 Film
8.2 Television
8.3 Documentaries
8.4 Stage
9 Bibliography
10 References
11 External links
Early life
Cantona was born in Marseille, to Albert Cantona, a nurse and a painter,
and Éléonore Raurich, a dressmaker.[10][11][12] The family home was
a cave in one of the hills in the Les Caillols area of Marseille, between
the city's 11th and 12th arrondissements, and it was rumoured to have
been used as a look-out post for the German Army, towards the end of
the Second World War. The site was chosen in the mid-1950s by
Cantona's paternal grandmother, Lucienne, whose husband, Joseph, was
a stonemason. By the time Cantona was born in 1966, the hillside cave
had become little more than a room in the family's house, which was
now up to a liveable standard. Cantona has two brothers, Jean-Marie,
who is four years older; and Joël, who is 17 months younger.

Cantona came from a family of immigrants: his paternal grandfather,

Joseph, had emigrated to Marseille from Sardinia,[13] while his mother
was from Barcelona.[14] Pere Raurich, Cantona's maternal grandfather,
was fighting the armies of General Franco in the Spanish Civil War in
1938 when he suffered a serious injury to his liver, and he had to retreat
to France for medical treatment with his wife Paquita.[15] The Raurichs
stayed in Saint-Priest, Ardèche, before settling in Marseille.[15]

Club career
Early career
Cantona began his football career with SO Caillolais, his local team and
one that had produced such talent as Roger Jouve and had players such
as Jean Tigana and Christophe Galtier within its ranks. Originally,
Cantona began to follow in his father's footsteps and often played as a
goalkeeper, but his creative instincts began to take over and he would
play up front more and more often. In his time with SO Caillolais,
Cantona played in more than 200 matches.

Cantona's first professional club was Auxerre, where he spent two years
in the youth team before making his debut on 5 November 1983, in a 4–
0 league victory over Nancy.[16]

In 1984 his footballing career was put on hold as he carried out his
national service. After his discharge he was loaned out to Martigues[16]
in the French Second Division before rejoining Auxerre and signing a
professional contract in 1986. His performances in the First Division
were good enough to earn him his first full international cap when barely
in his twenties. However, his disciplinary problems began in 1987 when
he was fined for punching teammate Bruno Martini in the face.[16]
The following year, Cantona was again in trouble because of a
dangerous kung-fu tackle on Nantes player Michel Der Zakarian,
resulting in a three-month suspension,[16] this was later reduced to a
two-month suspension as his club Auxerre threatened to make the player
unavailable for selection in the national team. He was part of the French
under-21 side that won the 1988 U21 European Championship, scoring a
hat-trick in a quarter-final against the England under-21 side in the
process,[17] and shortly after he transferred to Marseille for a French
record fee (FF22m). Cantona had grown up as a Marseille fan.

In January 1989 during a friendly game against Torpedo Moscow he

kicked the ball at the crowd, then ripped off and threw away his shirt
after being substituted. His club responded by banning him for a month.
Just a few months earlier, he had been banned from international
matches for one year after insulting the national coach Henri Michel on

Having struggled to settle at Marseille, Cantona moved to Bordeaux on a

six-month loan and then to Montpellier on a year-long loan. At
Montpellier, he was involved in a fight with teammate Jean-Claude
Lemoult and threw his boots in Lemoult's face. The incident led to six
players demanding that Cantona be sacked. However, with the support
of teammates such as Laurent Blanc and Carlos Valderrama, the club
retained his services, although they banned him from the ground for ten
days.[19] Cantona was instrumental as the team went on to win the
French Cup and his form persuaded Marseille to take him back.
Back at Marseille, Cantona initially played well under coach Gerard Gili
and his successor Franz Beckenbauer. However, the Marseille chairman
Bernard Tapie was not satisfied with the results, and replaced
Beckenbauer with Raymond Goethals; Cantona was continually at odds
with Goethals and Tapie and, despite helping the team win the French
Division 1 title, he was transferred to Nîmes the following season.

In December 1991, during a match for Nîmes he threw the ball at the
referee, having been angered by one of his decisions. He was summoned
to a disciplinary hearing by the French Football Federation and was
banned for one month. Cantona responded by walking up to each
member of the hearing committee in turn and calling him an idiot. His
ban was increased to two months, and Cantona subsequently announced
his retirement from football on 16 December 1991.[20]

The French national team coach Michel Platini was a fan of Cantona,
and persuaded him to make a comeback. On the advice of Gérard
Houllier as well as his psychoanalyst, he moved to England to restart his
career, "He [my psychoanalyst] advised me not to sign for Marseille and
recommended that I should go to England."[21]

On 6 November 1991, after Liverpool's 3–0 victory over Auxerre in a
UEFA Cup Second Round second leg tie at Anfield, Liverpool manager
Graeme Souness was met by Frenchman Michel Platini at the end of the
game, who told him that Cantona was available for sale to Liverpool.
Souness thanked Platini, but declined the offer, citing dressing room
harmony as his reason. Forwards available to Souness at the time,
included Ian Rush, John Barnes, Dean Saunders and Ronny Rosenthal,
and would be joined by Paul Stewart and Nigel Clough in the following

After being turned down by Liverpool, Cantona was given a trial at

Sheffield Wednesday when Wednesday manager Trevor Francis was
approached by Platini and Francis' former agent, Dennis Roach. In a
2012 interview Francis explained that he had agreed to take Cantona on
as a favour to Roach and Platini, who he knew from his time playing in
Italy, and that it was intended as an opportunity for Cantona to put
himself in the "shop window": Wednesday had only recently been
promoted back to the top flight, with most of the squad still being on
Second Division-level wages, and the club could not afford to sign him.
Cantona spent two days with Wednesday, training and playing in an
indoor tournament at Sheffield Arena.[22]

Leeds United
He joined Yorkshire rivals Leeds United, making his debut in a 2–0 loss
at Oldham Athletic on 8 February 1992.[23] At Leeds, he was part of the
team that won the final Football League First Division championship
before it was replaced by the Premier League as the top division in
English football. His transfer from Nîmes cost Leeds £900,000.[24]
Cantona made 15 appearances for Leeds in their championship-winning
season and despite only scoring three goals he was instrumental in their
title success, primarily with assists for leading goalscorer Lee Chapman.
He scored a hat-trick in the 4–3 victory over Liverpool in the 1992 FA
Charity Shield that August, and followed that with another in a 5–0
league win over Tottenham Hotspur – the first ever in the newly branded
Premier League.[25] His hat-trick in the Charity Shield places him
among the small elite group of players to have scored three or more
goals in games at Wembley Stadium.

Cantona left Leeds for Manchester United for £1.2 million on 26

November 1992. Leeds chairman Bill Fotherby had telephoned
Manchester United chairman Martin Edwards to enquire about the
availability of Denis Irwin. Edwards was in a meeting with Manchester
United manager Alex Ferguson at the time, and both men agreed that
Irwin was not for sale. Ferguson had identified that his team was in need
of a striker, having recently made unsuccessful bids for David Hirst,
Matt Le Tissier and Brian Deane, and instructed his chairman to ask
Wilkinson whether Cantona was for sale. Fotherby had to consult with
the manager Howard Wilkinson, but within a few days the deal was

Manchester United
1992–93 season
"He [Cantona] illuminated Old Trafford. The place was a frenzy every
time he touched the ball."
—Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.[3]
Cantona made his first appearance for Manchester United in a friendly
match against Benfica in Lisbon to mark Eusébio's 50th birthday,
wearing the number 10 shirt. He made his competitive debut as a
second-half substitute against Manchester City at Old Trafford on 6
December 1992, wearing the number 12 shirt. Manchester United won
2–1, though Cantona made little impact that day. He had arrived too late
to register to play in Manchester United's 1–0 win at Arsenal on 28
November, but was in the crowd at Highbury as his new team secured a
vital win.

"The Frenchman waltzed into The Cliff, United's old training ground,
and had team-mates in his thrall with barely a word. In his first season,
the first of the Premier League era, he cultivated what would become the
hallmarks of United for two decades: attacking football, ingenuity,
aggression and an utter insistence on winning. As Paul Ince recalled:
"He just had that aura and presence. He took responsibility away from
us. It was like he said: 'I'm Eric, and I'm here to win the title for you'."
—FourFourTwo magazine, "How Cantona transformed Manchester
United, the Premier League, and a Christmas Carol”.[27]
Manchester United's season had been disappointing up to Cantona's
signing. They were falling behind the likes of big spending Aston Villa
and Blackburn Rovers in the race for the first Premier League title, as
well as surprise challengers including Norwich City and Queen's Park
Rangers. Goalscoring had been a problem since the halfway point of the
previous season – when it had cost them the league title as they suffered
defeats or were held to draws at the hands of teams they had been
expected to beat.[27]
Alex Ferguson had first tried to sign Alan Shearer from Southampton
during the 1992 close season, but lost out to Blackburn Rovers. He then
spent £1 million on Dion Dublin, who suffered a broken leg a few games
into the season and was out of action for six months. A £3 million bid
for Sheffield Wednesday striker David Hirst was turned down, and by 7
November, Manchester United were 8th in the Premier League.[27]

However, Cantona quickly settled into the team, slotting in alongside

Mark Hughes, while Brian McClair was switched to midfield. Cantona
contributed greatly to a quick upturn in the team's fortunes, not only
scoring goals but also creating chances for the other players. His first
Manchester United goal came in a 1–1 draw against Chelsea at Stamford
Bridge on 19 December 1992, and his second came on Boxing Day in a
3–3 draw against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough where they
claimed a point after being 3–0 down at half time. However, controversy
was never far away, and on his return to Elland Road to play Leeds a
few weeks later, he spat at a fan and was fined £1,000 by the FA.
Manchester United only lost twice in the league after Cantona's arrival,
and finished the season as champions for the first time in 26

In Cantona's first season at Old Trafford, Manchester United won the

inaugural Premier League by 10 points – winning the top division title
for the first time since 1967. In doing so, he became the first player to
win consecutive English top division titles with different clubs. He had
won a domestic league title with different clubs for three successive
seasons, having helped Marseille win the French league title in 1991.
1993–94 season
"Collar turned up, back straight, chest stuck out, Eric glided into the
arena as if he owned the place."
—Former Manchester United teammate Roy Keane.[3]
Manchester United retained the Premier League, and Cantona's two
penalties helped them to a 4–0 win over Chelsea in the FA Cup Final.
He also collected a runners-up medal in the Football League Cup, which
the team lost 3–1 to Aston Villa. He was also voted PFA Player of the
Year for that season, and finished as Manchester United's top scorer with
25 goals in all competitions. However, the season was not without its
moments of controversy; Cantona was sent off as the team exited the
Champions League against Galatasaray, and he was also dismissed in
successive Premier League games in March 1994, firstly against
Swindon Town and then against Arsenal. The two successive red cards
saw Cantona banned for five matches, including a FA Cup semi-final
clash with Oldham Athletic, which Manchester United drew 1–1.
Cantona was available for the replay and helped them win 4–1.[16]

1993–94 was the first season of squad numbers in the Premier League.
Cantona was issued with the number 7 shirt, a squad number he kept for
the rest of his Manchester United career, and which already had iconic
status, having previously been worn by club legends including George
Best and Bryan Robson.[29] However, squad numbers were not set for
the UEFA Champions League matches and Cantona wore the number 9
shirt in the four fixtures home and away against Kispest Honvéd and
On 19 December 1993, he scored two against Aston Villa (the previous
season's runners-up) in a 3–1 victory that put Manchester United 13
points clear at the top of the league. They extended their lead to 16
points soon after, and eventually finished eight points ahead of runners-
up Blackburn. Cantona was United's top scorer with 26 goals in all

1994–95 season, 'kung-fu' incident, ban from football

In the 1994–95 season, Manchester United looked to win a third
successive league title, and for the first half of the season things went
smoothly enough for player and club. The season began with a 2–0
Wembley win over Blackburn Rovers in the Charity Shield, in which
Cantona scored a penalty.[31] Cantona frequently scored for Manchester
United, who put intense pressure on a Blackburn Rovers side that led the
table for much of the season, particularly with a 4–2 win at Ewood Park
in late October, in which Cantona was on the scoresheet. He was also on
the scoresheet the following month in a memorable 5–0 derby win over
Manchester City, and on 22 January he scored the winning goal in a 1–0
home win over Blackburn that made the title race even tighter and
brought Cantona's tally of league goals for that season to 12. He had also
scored a further goal in an FA Cup third round win at Sheffield United,
and a second double seemed like a real possibility. The arrival of striker
Andy Cole from Newcastle United on 10 January further boosted these
hopes, even though Cole was cup-tied for FA Cup fixtures.[32]
However, on 25 January 1995 he was involved in an incident that
attracted headlines and controversy worldwide.[33][34][35] In an away
match against Crystal Palace, Cantona was sent off by the referee for a
kick on Palace defender Richard Shaw after Shaw had frustrated
Cantona throughout the game by closely marking him.[33] As he was
walking towards the tunnel, Cantona launched a 'kung-fu' style kick into
the crowd, directed at Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons, a fan who
had run down 11 rows of stairs to confront and shout abuse at Cantona.
Simmons was alleged to have used the words "Fuck off back to France,
you French bastard".[33] Cantona followed the kick with a series of
punches. A lengthy ban from the game was regarded as inevitable, with
some critics calling for Cantona to be deported and never allowed to
play football in England again, while others called for him to be banned
from football for life.[35][36][37]

As well as the inevitable disciplinary action from his club and the
Football Association, Cantona was also faced with a criminal charge of
assault, which he admitted to on 23 March, resulting in a two-week
prison sentence, although he was freed on bail pending an appeal.[38]
This was overturned in the appeal court a week later and instead he was
sentenced to 120 hours of community service, which was spent coaching
children at Manchester United's training ground.[39] At a press
conference called later, Cantona said, in a slow and deliberate manner:

"When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines
will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much.”
—Cantona’s brief, and much publicised, statement.[40]
Cantona then got up from his seat and abruptly left, leaving behind him
a packed media room surprised and baffled – some roared with laughter
– with those in the room trying to decipher his cryptic words.[34][40] In
accordance with The Football Association's wishes, Manchester United's
initial action was to fine Cantona £20,000 for the assault and confirmed
that he would not play for the first team for the rest of the
season,[41][42] which ruled him out of first-team action as Manchester
United were still in the hunt for a second double. He was also stripped of
the captaincy of the French national football team by national coach
Aime Jacquet. The Football Association then increased the ban to eight
months (up to and including 30 September 1995) and fined him a further
£10,000.[43] The FA Chief Executive Graham Kelly described his
attack as "a stain on our game" that brought shame on football. FIFA
then confirmed the suspension as worldwide, meaning that Cantona
could not escape the ban by being transferred or loaned to a foreign
club.[44] Cantona would never play for the French national team
again.[45] His club eventually lost the Premier League title to Blackburn

There had been media speculation that Cantona would leave Manchester
United to play for a foreign club when his suspension finished, and
many observers felt that Cantona would not be able to cope with the
inevitable goading from rival players and supporters, but Alex Ferguson
persuaded him to stay in Manchester, despite interest from Italian club
Inter Milan (who had managed to lure his teammate Paul Ince to Italy
that year).[46]
Even after signing his new contract, Cantona was frustrated by the terms
of his ban (which did not even allow him to play in friendly matches
behind closed doors), and on 8 August, he handed in a request for his
contract to be terminated, as he no longer wanted to play football in
England. This came after Manchester United had been censured by the
FA for fielding Cantona in a match against another club at the club's
training ground, which was defined as a friendly match despite the club
organising the match as being within the context of training – as his
suspension allowed him to play in this type of match only. The request
was turned down and two days later, following a meeting in Paris with
Alex Ferguson, he declared that he would remain at the club. In 2011,
Cantona said that the attack on the Crystal Palace supporter was "a great
feeling" and a memory he is happy for fans to treasure, but "... it was a

1995–96 season
In his comeback game against Liverpool on 1 October 1995, Cantona set
up a goal for Nicky Butt two minutes into the game, and then scored a
penalty after Ryan Giggs was fouled to secure a point for Manchester
United in a 2–2 home draw against their great rivals. However, eight
months without competitive football had taken its toll and Cantona
struggled for form prior to Christmas – by 24 December, the gap
between Manchester United and league leaders Newcastle United had
increased to 10 points.

On 3 February 1996, Cantona returned to Selhurst Park for the first time
since the flying kick.[48] He scored twice as his side beat Wimbledon 4–
2.[49] A goal by Cantona in Manchester United's league clash with West
Ham United at Upton Park triggered a 10-match winning run in the
league. Over the second half of the season, several more games ended in
1–0 wins with Cantona scoring the only goal, though it was actually a
draw (in which Cantona equalised) with Queen's Park Rangers on 9
March which saw Manchester United overtake Newcastle on goal
difference for the first time. They stayed there for the rest of the season,
and on the final day of the season they beat Middlesbrough 3–0 at the
Riverside Stadium to win their third title in four seasons.

Manchester United also reached the 1996 FA Cup Final against

Liverpool, and with regular captain Steve Bruce struggling for fitness,
Cantona was named as captain. He then scored the only goal of the game
in the 86th minute and became the first player from outside Britain and
Ireland to lift the FA Cup as captain; Manchester United became the first
team to win "the double" twice.

1996–97 season
Cantona was confirmed as Manchester United's captain for the 1996–97
season following the departure of Steve Bruce to Birmingham City.
Manchester United retained the league in the 1996–97 season; 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, the
exception being the 1994–95 season which he had missed the second
half of through suspension. Cantona’s stand out moment in his final
season was a chipped goal followed by the memorable goal celebration
against Sunderland in December 1996. After chipping the Sunderland
goalkeeper from 25 yards out, Cantona celebrated by standing still,
raising his arms aloft, holding his chest out and presenting a blank
expression while scanning the crowd.[50][51]

At the end of the season he announced that he was retiring from football
at the age of 30.[52] His final competitive game came against West Ham
on 11 May 1997, and his final appearance before retiring was five days
later on 16 May in a testimonial for David Busst (whose career had been
ended by an injury suffered against Manchester United the previous
year) against Coventry City at Highfield Road. Cantona scored a total of
64 league goals for Manchester United, 13 in domestic cup
competitions, and 5 in the Champions League, bringing his tally to 82
goals in less than five years.[27]

After leaving
In 1998, the Football League, as part of its centenary season
celebrations, included Cantona on its list of 100 League Legends.
Cantona's achievements in the English League were further marked in
2002 when he was made an inaugural inductee of the English Football
Hall of Fame. Later in 1998, Cantona organised a match of Manchester
United players against other players from around the world in what was
originally designed to be a memorial for the victims of the Munich Air
Disaster in 1958 and their families, but which was merged with a
testimonial for Cantona himself.[53]

In his 1999 autobiography Managing My Life, Alex Ferguson claimed

that Cantona had informed him of his decision to retire from playing
within 24 hours of Manchester United's Champions League semi-final
defeat to Borussia Dortmund, though the decision was not made public
for almost a month afterwards. During that time, there had been
speculation about his future at Manchester United, including talk of a
move to Real Zaragoza of Spain.

Returning to Britain in 2003 to pick up the Overseas Player of the

Decade Award at the Premier League 10 Seasons Awards, Cantona said
of his premature retirement, "When you quit football it is not easy, your
life becomes difficult. I should know because sometimes I feel I quit too
young. I loved the game but I no longer had the passion to go to bed
early, not to go out with my friends, not to drink, and not to do a lot of
other things, the things I like in life."[54]

In 2004, Cantona was quoted as saying, "I'm so proud the fans still sing
my name, but I fear tomorrow they will stop. I fear it because I love it.
And everything you love, you fear you will lose."[55]

Cantona being interviewed on stage at the Lowry in Salford, Greater

Manchester in February 2017
He was interviewed in the Number 7s issue of Manchester United's
official magazine, United, in August 2006, stating he will only come
back to Manchester United as 'Number 1' (meaning not return as
assistant manager or coach) and would create a team like no other and
play the way he thinks football should be played.
Cantona opposed the Glazer takeover of Manchester United, and has
stated that he will not return to the club, even as a manager, while the
Glazer family is in charge. This came as a disappointment to the many
Manchester United fans who voted him as their choice for the team's
next manager in a survey in the middle of 2000. At this stage, it had
been expected that manager Sir Alex Ferguson would retire in 2002, but
the manager later had a change of heart and would go on to manage until
his retirement in 2013.[56]

In July 2008, it was reported by the Sunday Express that Cantona had
been having second thoughts, with a "close friend" of Cantona's
allegedly revealing: "Eric does fancy the idea of helping out with the
coaching at a club like Manchester United... He has been enjoying
himself appearing in and directing films and being involved in beach
soccer but has always wanted to help produce a team in his style and
knows that Sir Alex Ferguson would encourage him".[57]

In March 2014, Cantona was arrested and cautioned for an act of

common assault on Regent's Park Road in Camden, North London. The
victim did not require medical attention.[58]

International career
Cantona was given his full international debut against West Germany in
August 1987 by national team manager Henri Michel. In September
1988, angered after being dropped from the national team, Cantona
referred to Michel as a "bag of shit" in a post-match TV interview and
was indefinitely banned from all international matches.[59] However,
Michel was sacked shortly after that having failed to qualify for the 1990
FIFA World Cup.

The new coach was Michel Platini and one of his first acts was to recall
Cantona. Platini stated that whilst he was coach, Cantona would be
selected for France as long as he was playing competitive top-class
football; it was Platini who had initiated Cantona's move to England to
restart his career. France qualified for Euro 1992 held in Sweden, but
failed to win a single game despite the striking partnership of Cantona
and Jean-Pierre Papin. Platini resigned after the finals to be replaced by
Gérard Houllier.

Under Houllier, France failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the
U.S. after losing the final game 2–1 at home to Bulgaria when a draw
would have sufficed. Houllier resigned and Aimé Jacquet took over.
Jacquet began to rebuild the national team in preparation for Euro 96
and appointed Cantona as captain. Cantona remained captain until the
Selhurst Park incident in January 1995. The suspension which resulted
from this incident also prevented him from playing in international

By the time Cantona's suspension had been completed, he had lost his
role as the team's playmaker to Zinédine Zidane, as Jacquet had
revamped the squad with some new players. Cantona, Papin and David
Ginola lost their places in the squad and were never selected for the
French team again, thus missing Euro 96. Though there was media
criticism about Cantona's omission, as he was playing his best football in
the Premier League, Jacquet stated that the team had done well without
Cantona, and that he wanted to keep faith with the players who had
taken them so far.[60] In a 2015 interview with French radio network
France Info, Cantona stated that had he still been involved with the
national side, he would have extended his career to feature in the 1998
FIFA World Cup, held in Cantona's home nation.[61]

Cantona still harbours resentment for the people at the head of his
national team but also admiration for his adopted football country; at
Euro 2004 and the 2006 FIFA World Cup, he supported England and not

Mass media
1966 was a great year for English football. Eric was born.
—Nike slogan which appeared on billboards throughout England in
1994, referencing Cantona’s birth (the same year England won the
World Cup).[63]
In 1992, Cantona endorsed two video games, Eric Cantona Football
Challenge and Eric Cantona Football Challenge: Goal! 2.

He focused his later career mostly as an actor in French cinema, having

had his first role as a rugby player in Le bonheur est dans le pré, shot
during his 1995 suspension from football. In the late 1990s, he accepted
a role as a French ambassador in the English film Elizabeth (1998). In
2002, he directed a short film, Apporte-moi ton amour. He guest-starred
as a mysterious barroom philosopher in independent British film Jack
Says, released to DVD in September 2008. He co-starred as director
Thierry Grimandi in French Film (2009), and is co-producer and a lead
actor in Ken Loach's Palme D'or nominated film Looking for Eric
(2009). He stars as The Corsican in the Danish western The Salvation,
which premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival on 17 May 2014.[64]

Puppet of Cantona which appeared on the British satirical puppet show

Spitting Image during the 1990s
Cantona has frequently appeared in commercials for the sportswear
company Nike.[65][66] In 1996, he was the central figure in a Nike
commercial titled "Good vs Evil" in a gladiatorial game set in a Roman
amphitheatre. Appearing alongside football players from around the
world, including Ronaldo, Paolo Maldini, Luís Figo, Patrick Kluivert
and Jorge Campos, they defend "the beautiful game" against a team of
demonic warriors, which ends with Cantona receiving the ball from
Ronaldo, pulling up his shirt collar as was his trademark, and delivering
the final line, "Au Revoir", before striking the ball which punches right
through the demon goalkeeper.[65] Since his retirement from
professional football in 1997, Cantona has continued to appear in Nike

In a global Nike advertising campaign in the run-up to the 2002 World

Cup, Cantona starred as the organiser of "underground" games (branded
by Nike as "Scorpion KO") in a commercial directed by Terry Gilliam,
which takes place between football players such as Thierry Henry,
Ronaldinho, Francesco Totti, Roberto Carlos and Japanese star
Hidetoshi Nakata.[67][68] In an earlier UK Nike commercial, he
appeared playing "amateur" football on Hackney Marshes with other
stars including Ian Wright, David Seaman, Steve McManaman and
Robbie Fowler.[69] In a Nike campaign in the advance of the 2006
World Cup, Cantona appears as the lead spokesman for the Joga Bonito
organization, an association attempting to eliminate acting and fake play
from football.[70] He also starred in a Eurostar commercial in 1996,[71]
and an Irish EuroMillions advertisement in 2004.[72] In 2009, he
featured in a British television advertisement for a new model of the
Renault Laguna.[73] In 2007, he performed a spoken-word role on the
album La mécanique du cœur, by French rock band Dionysos.

Beach soccer

Cantona (top right) with his squad as head coach of the French beach
soccer team before a Euro Beach Soccer League match in 2010
Shortly after his departure from Manchester United in 1997, Cantona
became captain of the French national beach soccer team, gaining an
interest in the sport through his brother Joel who was already a part of
the French national side travelling the world to play matches.[74]
Cantona continued his interest in beach soccer games in southern Asia
and at the Inaugural Kronenbourg Beach Soccer Cup in 2002, in the city
of Brighton, England.

As a recognisable figure, Cantona was key to beach soccer's growth

during the sports early years, being a magnet for drawing in fans to
beach soccer events,[75] and also helping to promote the sport, saying in
2002, "Physically it is difficult, technically it is difficult, and tactically
it's difficult too. We must work very hard, and train regularly together.
Beach Soccer has got everything needed to be a great sport."[76]

He found considerable success as he managed and played in the French

team which won their first European title at the 2004 Euro Beach Soccer
League and the inaugural FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in 2005 in Rio
de Janeiro, France's first and only World title to date. This was Cantona's
final year as a player. However he continued to coach the French
national team at the 2006 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, which
finished in third place. In 2007 Cantona enjoyed another successful year
as manager, taking France to fourth place in the World Cup and
narrowly missing out on a second European title, finishing runners-up to
Portugal after a 7–6 loss in the final of the 2007 Euro Beach Soccer
League. The World Cup was held in France for the first time in 2008;
however, Cantona was unable to make the top four after losing to Italy
in the quarter finals.

After failing, as manager, to qualify France to the World Cup for the
first time in 2009, Cantona's demise as head coach was sealed in 2010 as
not only did France fail in qualification for the upcoming World Cup
again, but Cantona also lead the national team to relegation from the top
division of the Euro Beach Soccer League down to Division B. These
series of disappointments lead to Cantona resigning as manager of
France in 2011[77] after almost 15 years involved in the team.

Return to football in 2011

Cantona at Old Trafford with the Cosmos, 5 August 2011
The New York Cosmos announced the Frenchman's return to football as
their Director of Soccer on 18 January 2011. On arrival, Cantona
described his role to the press as to help Cosmos "regain the number one
position in the United States and then... to become one of the best clubs
in the world over the coming years."[78] Cantona was later fired by the
club after a confrontation with a photographer, and in May 2015 he sued
the Cosmos for nearly $1 million in back pay and a promised 4% equity
share.[79][80] The Cosmos rejected his claims, insisting that his role as
Director of Soccer was largely ceremonial, and that Cantona's true job
was as "a promoter and brand ambassador".[81][82] The two parties
later agreed to dismiss the lawsuit, though terms of a settlement were not

Political views
Cantona called for a social revolution against the banks and encouraged
customers of the major retail banks to withdraw their money on 7
December 2010 in protest at the global financial crisis. This proposal
then became the base for an online campaign calling for a bank run.[83]

In January 2012, Cantona began trying to gather the 500 signatures from
elected officials necessary for a bid for the French presidential election,
in order to draw support for the homeless charity and campaign group
In June 2012, he signed a petition for the release of Palestinian footballer
Mahmoud Sarsak: imprisoned without conviction by Israel in July 2009
and finally released on 10 July 2012.[85]

Cantona was married to Isabelle Ferrer from 1987 to 2003, they have
two children; Raphael (born 1988) and Josephine (born 1995). He
married actress Rachida Brakni in 2007, they also have two children;
Émir (born 2009) and Selma (born 2013).[86][87]

Cantona's brother, Joël, was also a professional footballer who played

for Marseille, Újpesti TE and Stockport County. Like Eric, Joël retired
from football at a young age and is now an actor. His cousin, Sacha
Opinel, is also a footballer.