Eric Cantona is a soccer player. A French player of immense talent, but one whose temperament was unable to find its true home as he played for numerous teams in France during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Despite his difficulties, and his frequent brushes with the French football authorities, Cantona was acknowledged to be a truly brilliant player. He became established in the French national team, and won the French Championship with Olympique Marseille and the French Cup with Montpellier before his deciding that he could not pursue his art - for he is a true artist - in his homeland.
He came to England (where as a French international he was initially offended at Sheffield Wednesday's offer of a trial), and in a brief stay at Leeds made a big impression as he helped them snatch the 1992 Championship. For Manchester United supporters this was a blow - the Championship had looked secure after a wait of 25 barren years. We knew Cantona had been the crucial factor - signed by Leeds as the season reached its deciding stage - and we knew he was a great player; but he was their player, he had destroyed our dreams, and we wished he had remained in France.
His first ever appearance for Manchester United was against Benfica in Lisbon, in a friendly match to mark the 50th birthday of Eusebio.
His first competitive appearance was as a second half substitute against Manchester city at Old Trafford, on December 6th, 1992.
His final competitive game came against West Ham on 11th May 1997. His final appearance before retiring was five days later on Friday 16th May. In a testimonial for David Busst against Coventry City at Highfield Road, Eric scored twice in a 2-2 draw.
Cantona is still featuring in Nike ads today - nearly ten years after his retirement, he fronted their Germany 2006 advertising campaign. www.soccercommercials.com.
He was married to Isobel and has two children but is now divorced.
His brother Joel was also a footballer and played for Marseille, Újpesti TE and Stockport County.
He became captain of the French National Beach Football team and won the beach soccer world championship in Rio de Janeiro.
Cantona joins the company of fellow Manchester United players George Best and Ryan Giggs along with Alfredo Di Stéfano, who have never played in a World Cup