Skip to the content Home .:. About .:. Biography
Eric Cantona
Spelling King Eric
Gender Male
Birthplace Marseille
Born 1966 05 24
Ethnic French
Job French Footballer
Desc The man who helped transform Manchester United from a promising side into the greatest team English football has ever seen. Before that he was a cult hero at Leeds, but it was his £1.2m move to Manchester that truly made him. Oozed both class and arrogance, while scoring a slew of memorable goals. And of course there was the controversy, with his infamous attack on a Crystal Palace fan resulting in a two-week prison sentence (which he avoided), 120 hours of community service and an eight month ban


Org France National Team
Club as Coach New York Cosmos [director of soccer]
Club as Player Manchester United
  Leeds United
  Montpellier [Loan]
Ngo Abbe-Pierre Foundation
  Common Goal


Wife Rachida Brakni
Son Emir Cantona
Father Albert Cantona
Mother Eleonore Raurich
Brother Jean-Marie Cantona
  Joel Cantona
Grandfather Pedro Raurich
Agent Jean-Jacques Bertrand


Common Goal Cantona is a committed supporter of the Common Goal initiative, which funds high-impact football charities worldwide. He contributes 1% of their annual salary to the project, which was co-founded by Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata
Abbe-Pierre Foundation It is a housing charity, the Abbe-Pierre Foundation (FAP), of which Eric Cantona is a patron
Matthew Simmons Eric Cantona was sent off for a kick on Crystal Palace defender Richard Shaw in another hot flash of temper and was making his way to the tunnel when was greeted by the snarls of Matthew Simmons, who had run down 11 rows in the stands to hurl abuse at the departing striker. Cantona, who had never been one to lie down in his lifetime, charged over the advertising board and embedded his studs into the chest of Crystal Palace fan
1992 11 27
Alex Ferguson made his greatest ever signing when he paid Leeds United £1.2 million for Eric Cantona
1955 01 26
Eric Cantona kicks off at Crystal Palace
1995 03 23
Cantona faces assault charges of Matthew Simmons at East Croydon Magistrates Court
1995 03 31
Cantona returns to Croydon, this time to the Crown Court, for an appeal hearing
1995 10 01
Cantona returns against Liverpool at Old Trafford, setting up a goal for Nicky Butt inside two minutes, and then scoring an equalising penalty in a 2-2 draw. He scores 13 more league goals, including the winner in five 1-0 victories, as United overhaul a 12-point deficit on Newcastle to regain the league title. Cantona also contributes five goals to United’s FA Cup campaign, including the winner over Liverpool in the final, as they complete the Double

2006 04 Retrieve

[Eric Cantona’s Perfect XI] I loved the Dutch in the ’70s, they excited me and Cruyff was the best. He was my childhood hero; I had a poster of him on my bedroom wall. He was a creator. He was at the heart of a revolution with his football. Ajax changed football and he was the leader of it all. If he wanted he could be the best player in any position on the pitch. […] I was going to choose Cruyff as a player-manager because I loved his tactical brain. He was always thinking, he always wanted to improve his players. I know what his teams can do as I watched from the stands as his Barcelona side beat United 4-0 in 1994

2010 05 19 Retrieve

[Eric Cantona to support England not France at World Cup] I will support England. I am half Marseilles, half English … In Manchester you feel like you’re home, protected and loved. Manchester is a city that loves the beautiful game and beautiful players … They are not scared of dealing with hot-tempered personalities

2010 12 07 Retrieve

[Eric Cantona start a banking revolution] The three million people in the street, they go to the bank, withdraw their money, and the banks collapse. That’s a real threat, there’s a real revolution

2012 01 10 Retrieve

[Eric Cantona highlight the plight of poor quality housing at French presidential race] If I’ve chosen housing, it’s because I think it’s essential and affects 10 million people.

2014 11 01 Retrieve

[Eric Cantona on Marcelo Bielsa] He has character. He has a personality, charisma. He knows good football. He’s a bit like Mourinho. I like all those guys. When there is a press conference with Bielsa or Mourinho, we know that something will happen. I like that they call into question the opinions and questions of journalists

2015 04 15 Retrieve

[Eric Cantona on Javier Pastore] For me, the best player in the world is Javier Pastore. I watched two PSG games just to see him play. For me, he is the most creative player at the moment. Pastore is full of surprises. I love this kind of player

[Cantona courts controversy by suggesting that Spain’s World Cup triumph in 2010 was only down to the influence of Barcelona on the national team] Catalonia won the World Cup. Spain won it with 10 Barcelona players in the team. Spain did not win the World Cup, Catalonia did. Barcelona won it. I’m sure that as soon as the youth set-up from Barcelona and other Spanish teams draw new, good players, Spain will emerge again

2015 09 22 Retrieve

[Eric Cantona pledges to house and feed refugee family for two years] I’m organising that with authorities in Marseille. If you house someone who does not have the right to work, then they need to eat too. My maternal grandparents were Spanish Republicans who fled Franco by crossing the Pyrenees on foot. That being our story, it certainly played a role

2015 11 28 Retrieve

[on Roy Keane] He was the best in midfield; he could play everywhere. He could play the holding role and be defensive, but then he could suddenly burst forward and score goals. He was so intelligent in how he played the game and let me tell you, it felt good to have him behind me for four seasons. He’d win the ball and then give it to me. And what a character!

2016 02 13 Retrieve

[on Jose Mourinho] I’m not a fan of Mourinho’s playing style, but he has a fascinating personality. He’s very intelligent, has an incredible charisma and a special way of dealing with things. [. . .] He always deflects the attention to him - not only for his ego, but to take the pressure away from the players. People talk mostly about Mourinho, despite him having world champions in his side

2016 05 26 Retrieve

[Cantona suggests the ethnicity of Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa may have been a factor in the France manager Didier Deschamps] Benzema is a great player. Ben Arfa is a great player. But Deschamps, he has a really French name. Maybe he is the only one in France to have a truly French name. Nobody in his family mixed with anybody, you know. Like the Mormons in America

So I’m not surprised he used the situation of Benzema not to take him. Especially after Manuel Valls [French prime minister] said he should not play for France. And Ben Arfa is maybe the best player in France today. But they have some origins. I am allowed to think about that

[When asked if he was really suggesting that Deschamps had been guilty of discriminating against the pair] Maybe no, but maybe yes. Why not? One thing is for sure - Benzema and Ben Arfa are two of the best players in France and will not play the European Championship. And for sure, Benzema and Ben Arfa, their origins are north African. So, the debate is open

[Cantona comments on the state of French Politics] For sure, if France win the European Championship the politicians will use that success - just as they did [after the World Cup] in ‘98. But it’s just politics. The people from the right, they use this situation. They mix everything. They mix up Daesh, the bombing, the refugees. We have to be cleverer. There are people here who really need help. They are the ones we should think about

2016 05 28 Retrieve

[Former France and Manchester United star Eric Cantona opens up about life after football as he turns 50] When you stop playing football it’s very difficult. Football is like a drug. Sport is like a drug. Physiologically, it’s like your drug. And you need it. You need something

2016 07 10 Retrieve

[Eric Cantona bids to be become future manager of England] I, potential future manager of England, promise never to lose against a small frozen island where the goalkeeper is a movie director and the second coach is a dentist

I, manager of England, will ask the giant Harry Kane not to hit crucial free-kicks but to be on the other end of it for a header. Especially if you are going to hit that free-kick to the moon

I, manager of England, will take Sir Alex Ferguson as my special advisor and my good friend Peter Schmeichel for the assistant job

So for the same price, you will get Tintin and the Captain Haddock!

2016 07 18 Retrieve

[Eric Cantona tells Ibrahimovic joining United is the best choice you ever made] I have a personal message for Zlatan: You decided to go red. It is the best choice you ever made. When you walk into the Theatre of Dreams. When you can feel the ghosts of the legends that have been here before. When you score that first goal right in front of Stretford End. When you hear the crowd chanting your name. When your heart beats so strong that it bursts out of your chest. When you feel that you will love them as much as they will love you. You will know, my friend, that you finally made it home

Just one last thing, there can only be one King in Manchester. You can be the Prince if you want to. And the number 7 is yours if you are interested. That is my welcome gift to you … The King is gone! Long live the Prince!

2016 10 13 Retrieve

[Eric Cantona on Pele] An artist in my eyes is someone who can lighten up a dark room. I have never and will never find difference between the pass from Pele to Carlos Alberto in the final of the World Cup in 1970 and the poetry of the young Rimbaud. There is in each of these human manifestations an expression of beauty which touches us and gives us a feeling of eternity.

2017 05 27 Retrieve

[Eric Cantona expresses his support for the people of Manchester following Monday’s terrorist attack in the northern English city] I think deeply to the victims, to the wounded persons, kids, teenagers, adults, to their families, to their friends, to all, all of you, all of us. I think to this city, Manchester, and Mancunians, that I love deeply. I think to this country, England, and the English, that I love deeply. I suffer with you, my heart is with you. I always feel close to you

2017 11 24 Retrieve

[Eric Cantona calls PSG a small club] I love Javier Pastore, he plays for Paris but he doesn’t play in the team. They have two great players - Pastore and Hatem Ben Arfa and neither of them play. Pastore is very special, Pastore surprises you every time, he gives the ball to someone no-one has seen before. And he surprises all of the fans, I think he’s a great player. He plays for Argentina, which is a great player, but he doesn’t play for Paris, which is a small club!

2017 12 03 Retrieve

[Eric Cantona reveals he should have been named Old Trafford boss after Sir Alex Ferguson retired. On the appointment of David Moyes, Cantona said] Only I could have made them succeed [after Fergie’s 2013 retirement]. Nobody else. Only me

[When asked if he’d return to football, Cantona reveals] No. Only to manage Manchester United. They won’t ask me. Maybe that’s why they didn’t win the Premier League

[Cantona said he would rather Pep Guardiola be in charge of United rather than Jose Mourinho] I prefer the way Guardiola plays, and I would prefer him as manager of Manchester United, it’s more logical

2018 04 07 Retrieve

[Eric Cantona predicts an African team winning the World Cup in the near future] If you find interviews that I gave twenty years ago, I explain that an African team will win in the near future the World Cup. Today, the best are reaching the quarter-finals, but I still say that an African team will soon win the World Cup

2018 10 13 Retrieve

Football is one of life’s great teachers. It is one of life’s great inspirations

2019 03 19 Retrieve

[Eric Cantona on Brexit] Brexit is like Boris Johnson’s hair, he’s the only one who doesn’t think it’s a complete disaster. That’s why I have created the Brexit Bunker: A British Noah’s Ark! Here, one specially selected Brit can take shelter from the constant bombardment of Brexit chatter

2019 08 27 Retrieve

[Eric Cantona quotes King Lear at the Uefa Champions League draw] As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods, they kill us for their sport. Soon the science will not only be able to slow down the ageing of the cells, soon the science will fix the cells to the state and so we will become eternal. Only accidents, crimes, wars, will still kill us but unfortunately, crimes, wars, will multiply. I love football. Thank you

2019 11 19 Retrieve

[In 2007 a suitcase was discovered in Mexico City, where it had been hidden for almost 70 years. Inside they found 126 old rolls of film containing 4,500 negatives; they also found a part of Cantona. Most of the pictures, smuggled out of France when the Nazis arrived, were taken by photojournalist Robert Capa during the final months of the Spanish civil war. Capa had also been in Argelès-sur-Mer, where 100,000 people fleeing Spain were held in a refugee camp, among them Pedro Raurich, 28, and his 18-year-old girlfriend, Paquita Farnòs. Pedro was Cantona’s grandfather and when the missing photographs were first exhibited in New York, he went looking for him] It was something … emotional. It is the story of my family, mine. It was a Capa exhibition about the civil war, so I came and I saw a lot of pictures. There were negatives, some bigger [PRINTS]: two, three metres. Some were very small, you had to look with a loupe, a magnifying glass. And I say to Rachida [MY WIFE]: ‘I will try and I am sure we will find a picture of my grandparents’

And I saw one

I felt, er … My grandparents didn’t speak much about this, they didn’t want [TO], so we didn’t ask questions. When I see the photograph, I thought about my mother, so I brought the book of the exhibition to my mother. It was small in the book. And then this exhibition travelled to Arles [in southern France] and I took my mother and her sister. He was young [in the picture], and I didn’t know him when he was young. ‘Is it him?’ My mother hadn’t seen this kind of picture [OF HIM]. I wanted them to see if it was him, and also to see him. He didn’t speak a word to my mother too. And they said: ‘Yes, it’s him’. And they were very emotional

Human being. What kind? Ah, well … I don’t know, one with all kind of paradoxes, contradictions. Some of it you cannot explain. There’s an energy sometimes. Sometimes you have an explanation and sometimes no. It’s better when you have. But you try to understand and that’s why life is a big adventure; even trying to understand ourselves is a big adventure

[Although it is hard to explain, he believes his grandfather’s experience, preserved in Capa’s photograph, is also preserved in him. It is a photo he wants to buy, bring home] It’s in our DNA, my brothers and me. I did a movie once where I was on a horse. There was a dog attacking the horse and this man said 200 years ago these dogs attacked horses for work. They don’t know why, or need to, but it’s there. It’s in us

[My grandparents] didn’t speak much but sometimes silence for kids is more important, in a good or bad way. When they don’t say things, you imagine, you create your own story. We always felt very close to them. That’s my mother’s side: my father’s side come from Sardinia [Which is why, when Cantona retired, he went to Barcelona]. I was born in 1966 and they were not allowed back for 25 years. I wanted to go to their place. And now I have land in Sardinia and I have the same feeling

We feel a pull to our origins, I think, and the more they want to take us away from our origins, the more we want to go back. In France sometimes they want us to forget our origins, and I think it is a mistake. It’s not because you are close to your origin, or speak the language, that you don’t love the country where you are or will not learn French

[Cantona points at his wife, sitting a few metres away with his brother, Jean-Marie, and son, Raphael] My wife, she is of origin Algerian, she speaks French perfectly and Arabic too. And it’s good. I ask her to speak to our son, our daughter, in Arabic. It’s transmission

My grandparents are from Spain and Sardinia. And us? We are just lucky. I am French from two generations. But I don’t want people to think they are [ONLY] from this country or that one. I am a human being, I respect everybody. We are lucky to have different cultures, to speak to people, travel, respect their culture

[The problem, he fears, is that there is a shift away from that view; a rise in nationalism, an anti-immigration agenda] The big democracies go to where there are thousands of years of traditions and cultures and they want them to live like they want. They have their own vision. For me that is a kind of terrorism. An economic terrorism. And big democracies inside are, in a way, dictatorships because they want to impose their vision. It’s just my own view but I think we are lucky to have different cultures, thousands of cultures

It’s an economic problem, no? It seems we don’t use history to understand better today. In 1929 you had the crisis and then Italy and Germany and the war. It seems there is a repetition. See what is happening in the world, how the extreme right wing grew. I hope not but in some countries it is already like this. It is the same story but we don’t care: it’s like we need it. Put the counter to zero, start again. Millions of people killed but it doesn’t matter. Economically we will be at zero, start again

[How, then to stop it?]Say things, move. But you have players who support the extreme right in Brazil. Now more and more and more you have racist fans all over the world using football. And we let it go

When he is trying to define himself, Cantona says]</b> I had a good education: respect myself, respect people, even if I don’t like it. I try to be free. But not completely. If I say everything I think … [Smile] But I think I am free enough. Sometimes I think what I say. And I think I say much more than the majority of people

[Eric Cantona wants footballers to use their power and find their voice] I don’t know why. We ask the footballer to play well but it is important that, even if they don’t speak, they keep an eye on society, what happens around them. Football is our passion since we were kids, a dream, and maybe some don’t have another. But a lot of footballers are curious. I don’t think it’s [A LACK OF] intelligence. Who are we to say we are more intelligent than others? And what is intelligence? To play at the highest level you need to have this kind of intelligence, which is not less important than the one of a philosopher

There should be more people using football, like Common Goal do. I was in Cartagena [COLOMBIA] and I went to a very poor, poor, poor area, where there are people displaced by the Farc [leftist rebel group], 50,000 people. There are no houses but they created a football pitch because they love football. To play they had to go to school and work. Maybe none will become professional but they will have been to school - and that will help the rest of their lives

Because everyone loves football, you can do all sorts of things. More footballers and ex-footballers should use their position. It’s important to encourage them to look around. If they don’t want to speak, if they want to concentrate on their game, no problem. But at least know. And then at the end, maybe we will do something because you will know. But there’s ignorance and it is a shame because players come from these kind of areas, and some forget. We have to make them understand. But, then, who are we to say we are right and they are wrong? I mean, I think I am right, but … I don’t know

2019 11 21 Retrieve

When I was a little boy, what made me dream was the Stade Vélodrome. And this love will never leave me

2019 11 27 Retrieve

[Eric Cantona talks about Matthew Simmons] I did not punch him strong enough. I should have punched him harder. I didn’t watch it after on television. Because I knew. All I had was journalists around my house. That’s all I could see. My house was small. They blocked the light. But for me it has to be: ‘When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much’

2019 12 24 Retrieve

[Eric Cantona says Manchester United play football like an old man having sex - it only leads to disappointment] Manchester United occupies a special place in my heart. But watching United play now, it’s a bit like making love as an old man. You try as hard as you can, but at the end of the day, everyone is a bit disappointed

When I say things, sorry, about making love as an old man, I’m not speaking about me. It was just a metaphor

[Although he finds the team underwhelming this season, he is confident they will be back among Europe’s elite before long] They will be back because it’s the biggest club in the world

2019 12 28 Retrieve

[Eric Cantona on Manchester United’s current form] Manchester United occupies a special place in my heart. But watching United play now, it’s a bit like making love as an old man. You try as hard as you can, but at the end of the day, everyone is a bit disappointed. When I say things, sorry, about making love as an old man, I’m not speaking about me. It was just a metaphor

2020 02 09 Retrieve

[Cantona ‘afraid’ of the day Man Utd fans stop singing about him] I feel proud, I feel great and I feel a bit afraid that they will stop - because they will stop one day. The meaning of Manchester United is winning. Winning with enjoyment. It’s what all fans of Manchester United expect. Not only winning, winning with enjoyment. Like for 25 years with Alex Ferguson, or before with Matt Busby. That’s Manchester United, it’s why we all love Manchester United

What I love about Alex Ferguson is every time there was a new goal, a new challenge. Even if we were 10 points in front and we have already won the league, we would always try to find a new challenge, new records. He is one of the few people I have met who has had a lot of influence on me. It’s like in everything, the people we meet make us

2020 04 19 Retrieve

[Cantona decry prospect of football without fans amid coronavirus] I’d be delighted if we could restart football as it was before. If we start on June 17 because there’s no more problems for anyone, that’s great. But to resume playing football in front of nobody, just because TV have suspended payments, that’s not great, right? You can have exactly the same stakes, the same players, [but] a match behind closed doors isn’t a football match. The energy that the fans give off, that they transmit to the players, that lifts players. You’ve seen Champions League games behind closed doors. It was the same matches, the same stakes, but it wasn’t the same. There’s none of the passion. The players need that energy. It’s like at the theatre, to play in front of an empty room or a full room, it’s not the same thing