Eric CantonaEvery Inch a King
Eric Daniel Pierre Cantona (born 24 May 1966) is a French actor and former footballer who began his professional football career with Auxerre in 1983.
It has been commented that, at nine, Cantona was already playing like a fifteen-year-old. Though he possessed unquestionable creative ability he was also a volatile character and soon became involved in a catalogue of disciplinary problems. Trouble followed him from Auxerre, Marseille Bordeaux, Montpellier and all the way to the French national team. In December 1991, during a match for Nimes he threw the ball at the referee, and received a one month suspension. Cantona responded by calling the members of the disciplinary committee 'idiots' - his ban was increased to three months.
Angered by the decision, Eric Cantona announced his retirement from football in December 1991. The French national team coach Michel Platini was a keen fan of Cantona, and persuaded him to make a comeback because he admired his talent. On the advice of Gérard Houllier as well as his psychoanalyst, he moved to England to restart his career.
Cantona joined Leeds United in 1992 after rejections from Graeme Souness at Liverpool and Trevor Francis at Sheffield Wednesday. In November of that year Alex Ferguson made the signing that would spark the revival of Manchester United fortunes and that of Cantona as together they began to win championship after championship.
It was with Manchester United that he made his most supreme error of judgement – the legendary 'Kung Fu' kick. In a 1995 game against Crystal Palace, Eric was sent off. As he headed back to the changing rooms, he leaped with both feet into the opposition crowed where he kicked and punched a fan who was shouting racial slurs at him. He was dealt a heavy fine and sentenced to serve 120 hours of community service plus a 9-month ban from the game. Eventually Eric rejoined his Old Trafford team mates a reformed character, He went on to lead his side as captain to many more famous victories and championships.
His retirement in the 1996-1997 surprised many people as it was the widely thought that he could have played on for many more years. In 2001 he was voted Man United’s player of the century, and to this day United fans refer to him as 'King Eric'.
Though Eric never declared himself to be 'King' (Le Roi), one day he may tackle the most famous King of all. As he continues to develop his craft as an actor, he may ultimately play the role of King Lear, the most challenging for any theatre actor. This tragedy by William Shakespeare, is considered to be one of his greatest works, Lear madly declares himself 'Every Inch a King' as he wears a crown of weeds. Symbolic of both his loss of sanity as he comes to realise the suffering he has not only caused to himself but to his entire kingdom.
'In football you have an adversary; in cinema that adversary is yourself.'
Cantona on cinema
'Do you think the greatest French player of all time is Zinedine Zidane or Michel Platini?' 'No, it is me.'
Eric Cantona when asked about the French greats
'Every inch a king.'
William Shakespeare, King Lear, 4.6.109