A Frenchman with a serious problem with authority - referees,
managers and even the French FA had already been the target of his ire
- who came to Leeds to everyone's great surprise halfway through the
1991-92 charge for the Championship. His career with Nimes in France
seemed to be at an end because of his personal troubles, but he'd been
over in England on trial at Sheffield Wednesday: when they asked him
to stay for an extended trial he wasn't happy - and at that point
Wilko gambled £900,000 on signing him.
He only played a handful of games that season, mainly from the
bench, but did score some absolutely brilliant goals. With Leeds'
indifferent form at the start of the next campaign, his true nature
started to show itself: a genius in a winning side but a liability
when the chips were down and the team needed to pull together. After
some particularly poor performances - notably against Rangers in the
European Cup - Cantona found himself out of the starting line-up and
very unhappy. An abysmal performance in a league cup defeat at Watford
rounded off his Leeds career: a phone call from Alex Ferguson secured
the bargain of the century for Manchester United and helped transform
what was admittedly a good and improving Old Trafford outfit into the
great unit that dominated English football from 1993 onwards.
In his time at Old Trafford he won a pile of trophies, but he
continued to show the nasty side of his nature, and only the presence
of that mystical Red Devil badge on his shirt saved him from more red
cards and long bans as referees and the FA turned a blind eye to
numerous boots and elbows on opposition players. The FA finally had to
act when he attacked a spectator who had been shouting abuse at him
when he was dismissed at Selhurst Park, and although he returned to
the Man U side after that, he never quite had the same edge, and the
presence of a young David Beckham had started to shift the focus
of Alex Ferguson's side away from the Frenchman.
He's still playing football - but these days it's the burgeoning
beach football circuit, where a skillful flick counts more than the
ability to sprint around the court. He's also appeared in a couple of
films - but unsurprisingly, he's stayed out of the mainstream,
focusing on art-house movies rather than Hollywood blockbusters.
james says: iam the brother of the man that he kicked and before
that we all loved cantona but after that we didnt like him at all