Leeds United F.C. History
Leeds United F.C. History : Foreword
1919-29 - The Twenties
1930-39 - The Thirties
1939-46 - The War Years
1947-49 - Post War Depression
1949-57 - The Reign of King John
1957-63 - From Charles to Revie
1961-75 - The Revie Years
1975-82 - The Downward Spiral
1982-88 - The Dark Years
1988-96 - The Wilko Years
1996-04 - The Rollercoaster Ride
2004-17 - Down Among The Deadmen
100 Greatest LUFC Players Ever
Greatest Leeds United Games
Players' Profiles
Managers' Profiles
Leeds City F.C. History
Leeds City F.C. Player and Manager Profiles
Leeds United/City Statistics
Leeds United/City Captains
Leeds United/City Friendlies and Other Games
Leeds United/City Reserves and Other Teams

Cantona: Eric Daniel Pierre (Eric)

1992-1992 (Leeds Player Details)(Player Details)


Born: Marsaille, France: 24-05-1966

Debut v Oldham Athletic (a) (substitute): 08-02-1992

6’2” 13st 11lb (1992)

#41 in 100 Greatest LUFC Players Ever

Cantona went to Grand Bastide Secondary School in Mazargue and played for Youth side Caillols before joining Nice Juniors, signing for Auxerre in May 1981 as a fifteen year old. He did his French National Service with Joinville Battalion at Fontainebleu in Paris and played for the French Army XI. On his return to Auxerre, where he made his French League debut against Nancy on 22nd October 1983, Cantona, a French Youth and Under-Twenty-One International, was loaned to Martigues in September 1985 before signing a professional contract with Auxerre in June 1986. He made his full international debut against West Germany in Berlin, in August 1987, but the following year proved a black one for Cantona. He was transferred to Marseille in June for £2.2 million and, two months later a verbal blast at national team coach Henri Michel earned him a year’s ban from international football. He helped Marsaille to win the French Championship in 1988–89 and 1990–91. After a loan spell at Bordaux he moved to Montpellier in July 1989, winning a French Cup Winner’s medal the following year after a 2-1 triumph over Matra Racing. A scuffle with a teammate in the dressing room heralded Cantona’s departure to Nimes in the close season of 1991 for £1 million, but his contract was cancelled after he threw a ball at a referee and stormed off the pitch. After a disciplinary hearing, he announced his retirement from football, but surfaced at Sheffield Wednesday for trials in January 1992. Howard Wilkinson snatched Cantona away from his former club and signed him on loan from Nimes the following month. Cantona spent just nine months at Elland Road, arriving in time to add impetus to the charge to the League Championship. He started the following campaign in grand style with a hat-trick in the 4-3 Charity Shield win over Liverpool. In the League he soon got another against Tottenham Hotspur and the “Ooh-ah, Cantona” love affair with Leeds looked likely to blossom. Unfortunately the relationship turned sour when the Gallic star and Wilkinson failed to see eye to eye. Wilkinson had paid Nimes £900,000 to buy him after the Championship was wrapped up, only to sell the mercurial Frenchman to bitter rivals Manchester United for £1.2 million in November 1992. The Leeds fans had hailed him as their hero, and the fiery French star’s shock departure stunned them. Many turned adulation into spite. A gifted player, his delightful weighted passes, thunderous shooting and all-round vision were major reasons behind Machester United’s League success in 1992-93 and the double triumph the following season when he coolly stroked home two penalties in the 4-0 thumping of Chelsea in the F.A. Cup Final. He was also in the team that won the Charity Shield in 1993 and 1994. He capped the season by being named PFA Player of the Year in 1993-94. However, trouble was lurking round the corner and on 25th January 1995 he attacked a spectator with a “kung-fu” style kick after being ordered off against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. He was fined £20,000 and suspended for the rest of the season by his club and the French F.A. stripped him of his country’s captaincy. An initial two-week jail sentence was reduced, on appeal, to community service, while football authorities imposed a worldwide ban on him, causing him to miss the start of the 1995-96 campaign. He returned against Liverpool and scored the inevitable Cantona goal and after Christmas was back to his brilliant best as Newcastle United’s runaway lead was pegged back. In the final run-in, a Cantona-inspired Manchester United clinched the Premiership title and he completed his rehabilitation by being crowned Footballer of the Year for 1996, as Manchester did the double and then also won the Charity Shield. In 1996-97 Cantona had a good season but failure to get to the European Cup Final and the emergence of United's young stars led him to suspect his powers were on the wane. In June 1997, after Manchester had again won the League title, he stunned the footballing world and left United fans gutted by announcing his retirement. He did not want to be remembered as an ageing player past his best, he wanted to always be remembered at his magnificent prime, a winner. Cantona instead planned to take up a different stage, amazingly, as a film actor. He did however return for one final game in the famous red shirt, playing in the Munich Memorial game in November 1998. A year later he returned for Alex Ferguson's Testimonial in which he played with a Manchester United legends team alongside Bruce, Pallister, Hughes, Robson and Schmeichel. Even after the Treble winning heroics, Cantona's popularity with the Manchester fans was still as strong as it ever was. The acting career path was not to be a huge success and, while participating in a succession of Television and other advertisements, Cantona returned to the game representing France in the shape of professional Beach football, and his superb skills were still very evident. In May 2001 Manchester United announced Cantona would return to Old Trafford in an informal role to coach the youth team and younger players. Cantona continued his interest in beach football games in southern Asia and at the Inaugural Kronenbourg Beach Soccer in 2002, at Brighton. He managed the French team which won the inaugural FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in 2005 in Rio de Janeiro. He also coached the French National team in the 2006 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, when they came third, and in 2007 they came fourth. But, in 2008, in France they failed to make the semi-finals. On 18th January 2011 he became Director of Soccer for the New York Cosmos.

League 18/109
League Cup 10
Europe 52
Charity Shield 13