Throwback Thursday – Eric Cantona

Everyone knows him. Even a generation past this legend’s playing days, Nike brought him back for a few excellently done ad campaigns. See below:

When the collar was up and he was on the field, any kind of magic was possible. This magic could be positive or negative. You could say that many younger people might know him only for his excellent handle of kung-fu and his ability to fly into the stands in a fit of rage. See below:

Or if you’re not into real people…

Either way, Cantona was quite a polarizing figure. The Frenchman was not great at going with the flow and always seemed to be in some kind of rift. The bookends of his club career, Auxerre at the start and Manchester United at the close, were the longest stays of his soccer life, both just lasting five seasons. In between, he was unable to settle in both on and off the field. One moment in particular that sticks out is his first retirement from soccer in 1991. Cantona was upset with how a committee was suspending him throwing the ball at the referee. After telling each member that he was an idiot, his suspension was increased to two months and subsequently, Cantona retired from the game.
Michel Platini was the French National Team coach at the time and convinced Cantona to come out of retirement and continue his career.
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And then came Manchester United. Four titles in five years and it all might never have happened. After the kung fu kick, Cantona was stuck amidst rumors that he would leave English football for good. Luckily, Sir Alex Ferguson convinced him otherwise and King Eric went on to be United captain and lead the Red Devils to two more titles.
You will not find a more polarizing character with the touch of class that Cantona had. On the field, a fleeting moment was more like a generation for him and in that time his ability to create and score goals was immense. Who knows where United would have ended up without him?
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