The Frenchman was banned by the FA for nine months following his violent attack on a Crystal Palace fan at Selhurst Park back in 1995. United supporters are reportedly planning a ‘French invasion’ involving masks of the likeness of the attacker who spent five year at Old Trafford from 1992 to 1997.
Cantona made over 200 appearances for United under Sir Alex Ferguson and scored 69 goals for the club, winning four Premier League titles and two FA Cups in four years before retiring in 1997.
The controversial 47-year-old has been something of an enigma in world football since making his name after signing for the Red Devils from Leeds United where he had spent just one year in 1992 following his arrival from Nimes in his homeland.
Cantona won the First Division title in 1991/92 with Leeds, as well as two Division 1 titles with Marseille between 1988 and 1991.His individual honours include the Ballon d’Or third place award in 1993, the PFA Team of the Year in 1993/94, the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award in 1993/94, and the FWA Footballer of the Year award in 1995/96.
That season, however, his pitch-side antics stole the limelight – Cantona was sent off at Selhurst Park on January 25th 1995 for a foul on Palace defender Richard Shaw. He then lunged a ‘kung-fu’ style kick into the stands as he walked towards the tunnel and punched Palace fan Matthew Simmons repeatedly after the supporter had run down 11 rows of stairs to shout abuse at the French ace.
He was banned for nine months but returned against Liverpool for the 1995/96 season in October 1995 before being handed the captain’s armband the following season by the boss succeeding Steve Bruce as United skipper in 1996/97 which would turn out to be his last season at Old Trafford.
He remains a legend amongst United fans but Crystal Palace are understood to be less than impressed by United fans’ plans to wear Cantona masks this weekend in tribute feeling that it is disrespectful to the club and its supporters.
image: © lordcolus