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FOOTBALL'S PHILOSOPHER KING

How old is Eric Cantona, when was Soccer Aid World XI manager’s kung-fu kick and what are the Manchester United legend’s best quotes?

The Manchester United legend is returning to Old Trafford to take part in Soccer Aid 2018

FEW footballers have produced as many jaw-dropping moments of magic and controversy as Eric Cantona.

Here's everything you need to know about the Manchester United legend who returns to Old Trafford for Soccer Aid 2018.

 Eric Cantona is a true Manchester United icon
PA:Empics Sport
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Eric Cantona is a true Manchester United icon

Who is Eric Cantona?

Eric Cantona was born in Marseille on May 24, 1966, and began his professional football career with Auxerre.

After nine years playing in France with spells at Marseille, Bordeaux and Nimes he joined Leeds United in 1992.

Already an established French international, Cantona helped to fire the Yorkshire club to the final ever old First Division title, and scored the first hat-trick in the Premier League.

A move to Manchester United followed, and under the management of Alex Ferguson the Frenchman became one of the club's true icons.

 Cantona was a key member of Alex Ferguson's mid-90s United side
PA:Press Association
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Cantona was a key member of Alex Ferguson's mid-90s United side

In a stunningly successful six-year spell with the Red Devils he scored 64 league goals, many of them among the finest in United history, and won four Premier League titles.

Cantona also claimed two FA Cups, scoring a memorable winning goal in the 1996 final against Liverpool, and was named the PFA Players' Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year.

Since his retirement he has been recognised in the Fifa 100 Greatest Living Footballers poll and the PFA Team of the Century.

Red Devils fans, who affectionately referred to him as "King Eric", voted Cantona the club's greatest ever player in a poll by Inside United magazine.

 Cantona netted some of the Red Devils' most memorable strikes
PA:Empics Sport
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Cantona netted some of the Red Devils' most memorable strikes

The 52-year-old was married to Isabelle Ferrer from 1987 to 2003, having two children together.

In 2007 Cantona married Rachida Brakni, a César Award-winning French actress – they have had a further two children.

As outspoken and opinionated off the pitch as he was outrageous on it, he made an attempt to gather support for a French presidential bid in 2012.

 Cantona married his second wife Rachida Brakni in 2007
PA:Press Association
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Cantona married his second wife Rachida Brakni in 2007

When was the kung-fu kick incident?

In January 1995, United were playing away at Crystal Palace when Cantona had his shirt pulled by defender Richard Shaw.

The fiery Frenchman reacted in typically uncompromising fashion by kicking out at his opponent, and was shown a red card.

As he trudged off the pitch, Palace fan Matthew Simmons ran down 11 flights of stairs to hurl abuse at Cantona, who responded by launching a kung-fu-style kick into the crowd.

 The notorious kung-fu kick earned Cantona an eight-month ban from football
Action Images
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The notorious kung-fu kick earned Cantona an eight-month ban from football

The shocking incident made headlines around the world.

Cantona received an eight-month ban from football and admitted a charge of assault, receiving 120 hours community service.

What has Eric Cantona done since retiring from football?

Following his shock retirement in 1997 at the age of just 30, Cantona became an actor on screen and stage.

Most notably for his British fans, he starred in 1998's biopic Elizabeth starring Cate Blanchett and had a major role as himself in 2009's Looking for Eric.

He has acted in various other French film and TV productions, donning an eye-catching and headline-making fat suit for 2003's The Overeater.

 Cantona donned an extraordinary fat suit for The Overeaters
EPA
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Cantona donned an extraordinary fat suit for The Overeaters

In 2010, he made his theatre debut in Face au Paradis, a play directed by his wife Rachida Brakni.

Cantona maintained an involvment in football by becoming the captain of the French beach soccer team, which also featured his brother Joel.

What are Eric Cantona's most famous quotes?

Following the kung-fu kick incident Cantona delivered a press conference to the expectant media which has gone down in folklore.

Instead of directly referring to the incident, he gave the oft-analysed assessment of: "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea."

It was by far the only occasion that the enigmatic footballing philosopher caused a stir with his choice of words.

In Looking for Eric, he delivered the memorable line: "I am not a man, I am Cantona."

And when asked to recall the highlight of his glittering career he responded in trademark left-field fashion:"My best moment?

"I have a lot of good moments but the one I prefer is when I kicked the hooligan."

Eric Cantona confirms he will be returning to Old Trafford in June to take part in Soccer Aid with Usain Bolt and many more