Few men have had such a demonstrable effect on British football in the past thirty years as Eric Cantona did during his time in England.
Ste McGovern and Colm Boohig discuss why this is so, his complex and often contradictory nature, and how that was reflected in his style of football.
How many footballers have had as big an effect on British football in the last thirty years as Eric Cantona? There have been better footballers (although not many), but the Frenchman’s influence on the game in England is demonstrable and far-reaching.
To find out why this is the case on the latest Nostalgia Ultras podcast, Ste McGovern and Colm Boohig look into his complex and often contradictory personality and how this was reflected in his style of football. We also tackle a blasphemous suggestion; was The King in fact overrated?
During the course of the episode, we talked about Cantona’s piece in The Player’s Tribune and his willingness to talk about his background, including the incredible story of his grandparents fleeing Spain from General Franco’s Nationalist forces. This story has helped to shape who Cantona and the type of footballer he became.
Since retiring from football Eric The Red has moved into acting and poetry, but how is it that this person who often comes across as soft-spoken and in touch with his emotional side has been prone to flashes of severe violence on the football pitch? How is it that a player who came across as stunningly arrogant and a showboat on the field of play, is also incredibly humbly and socially concious?
We tried to thread these contradictions of Cantona into a cohesive answer, but the Frenchman is a mercurial character, and perhaps will never be fully understood. But at least we can remember what a bloody great footballer he was.