Eric Cantona, born on 24th May 1966, is a French retired forward, now working as an actor. He's most well know for his time at Manchester United, where he ended his career, but also had stints at Auxerre, Martigues, Marseille, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nîmes and Leeds United.
Cantona's career started playing as a forward for French side Auxerre where he made 82 appearances, scoring 23 goals. He spent 5 years at Auxerre before a brief loan spell at Martigues then moving to Marseille where he remained for 3 years.
Another two loan spells at Bordeaux and Montpellier and a short move Nimes was followed by a move to England to play for Leeds United in 1992.
Cantona made 28 appearances for Leeds and scored 9 goals which caught the attention of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United who signed him on 26thNovember 1992 for a fee of £1.2m.
Cantona was an instant hit at United with an overall goals-to-games ratio of 1 in 2.2.
Manchester United would be his home for the next five years until he announced his retirement at the end of the 2016/2017 season at what some consider an early age of 30.
Cantona also made 45 appearances for the french national team, scoring a respectable 20 goals in those games.
Surprisingly, Eric Cantona doesn't make it into our top 50 all-time dirtiest Premier League Players list. However, this is mainly due to the fact that he only played a total of six seasons in English football. During his 171 Premier League appearances, he clocked up 15 yellow cards and 3 red cards which isn't a lot but it was one moment in particular which ensured we included him in the list of dirty players.
In the 1994-95 season, Eric Cantona was involved in one of the most historic and dirtiest moments in the Premier League.
On the 25th January 1995, Manchester United were playing away to Crystal Palace when Cantona was shown a red card for a challenge on Crystal Palace defender Richard Shaw. As Cantona was walking off the pitch, he launched himself into the crowd of spectators, boot first, aiming at one fan in particular who was alleged to have run down 11 rows of stairs to shout abuse at the United forward.
Following the incident, Cantona was banned from playing for United for the remainder of the season, fined £20,000, stripped of his captaincy of the French team and sentenced to two weeks in prison for the criminal charge of assault, although he was freed on bail pending an appeal.
In a press conference following the game, Cantona made a brief statement which left reporters stunned and some in roars of laughter:
"When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much.”
Eric Cantona's kung-fu kick will go down in history as one of the most memorable moments in the Premier League. With football being extremely stricter than it was back then, we're unlikely to see another act of violence like this one again.
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