Apart from Manchester United fans, there were not that many people in England that particularly liked Eric Cantona. The Frenchman portrayed arrogance and an eliteness that he embodied any time that he put on a shirt for United with his collar up swooning around the pitch with a prescience suggesting he owned it and looking down on all other players.
But this article is to do with one particular episode of Cantona's career - the infamous sending off at Crystal Palace in 1995 when after being red carded he then proceded to kung fu kick a Palace fan in the crowd. I can still recall being on the phone at the time and as the 9 o clock news started the first thing shown was the video footage of this incident that had just happened moments earlier. I told my friend on the other end of the line to quickly turn on his TV because I was in a state of disbelief as to what I had just seen. For the next half an hour or so we were still on the phone talking about all the possible ramifications that Cantona now faced.
In the end the punishment given to him on the assault charges from the police was a two week prison sentence (which was overturned on appeal) so instead he was sentenced to 120 hours of community service. United suspended Cantona for the remaining four months of the season and the FA increased the ban to eight months and he was fined a total of £30,000. A transfer would not help him either in an attempt to avoid the ban as FIFA confirmed that the suspension as worldwide. He was also stripped of the club captaincy and United would miss out on the title that season to Blackburn Rovers.
But this story did not finish here; at a news conference Cantona appeared and made a statement consisting of just one sentence. "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea". Shortly after this he left the stage to a mixture of confused, bemused and laughing media men. For the next few weeks the press attempted to analyse his words. Did they have some deep and hidden meaning?
Below are two videos from the BBC in which Cantona is being interview regarding this "deep" statement - one of which actually shows the original kung fu kick and original press conference. Cantona even jokes about it as being the best moment in his career!
There could be many people out there that did not like Cantona when he was a player. The reasons could be as simple as - he played for Manchester United. But even those that feel that way should put those feelings away somewhere and lock them up - firstly because those days are long gone and secondly Cantona is now using the same arrogance that he had as a player in a way that is amusing to probably just about all of us!
Even in the two interviews above you get a sense of his humour behind the stern face - and that humour is even further explored in the two adverts that he made below.
Above - Don't miss the last 10 seconds of this one!
There were loads of articles on the old site and I have began to transfer some of the most popular ones over to this site.