Eric Cantona

Why Do People Hate Eric Cantona?

Eric Cantona is a French former professional footballer who played for clubs like Leeds United and Manchester United in the 1990s. He is considered one of the greatest and most charismatic players of his generation. However, Cantona was also known for his controversial behavior both on and off the pitch, which has led some football fans to dislike him.

Why Do Some Football Fans Dislike Eric Cantona?

There are several reasons why Eric Cantona has his detractors despite his brilliant footballing ability:

Aggressive behavior and disciplinary issues

Cantona had several incidents of violent conduct during his career, leading to suspensions, fines, and public criticism. Some of his notable controversial moments include:

  • Kicking a fan – In 1995, he kicked a Crystal Palace supporter who was insulting him, receiving a lengthy 8 month ban from football. This earned him the ire of many fans.
  • Red cards – Cantona received over 10 red cards in his career for aggressive behavior towards opponents and referees. His hot-headed temperament frustrated fans at times.
  • Fines & bans – Aside from the 1995 incident, Cantona was fined and banned for other acts like insulting teammates, throwing the ball at a referee, and fighting on the pitch.

Arrogant persona

Cantona came across as an arrogant player to some people. His upturned collar, rebellious style, and blunt comments about teammates, fans, and authorities led to perception that he was egotistical.

  • He referred to himself in third-person as “King Eric”.
  • His cryptic philosophical statements at press conferences confused and annoyed some fans.
  • He did not shy away from criticizing managers, club authorities, and even fans for perceived slights.

Controversial views

Cantona has made inflammatory statements on various issues off the pitch that have landed him in hot water:

  • In 2009, he caused anger by insulting the France national team and coach Raymond Domenech.
  • He has been accused of making anti-Semitic comments about Jews in the past.
  • He has defended controversial figures like former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
  • His views on politics, inequality, acting, and other topics have sometimes caused consternation.

Unusual personality

Cantona’s idiosyncratic personality could be off-putting to some:

  • He was known for his deep, philosophical statements that came off as pretentious.
  • His eccentric dressing style, especially the turned-up collar, did not sit well with traditionalists.
  • His acting pursuits, artistic endeavors, and interest in things like film-making and photography marked him out as unconventional.

What Positive Qualities Do His Supporters Point Out?

While Cantona has noteworthy flaws, he also possesses many virtues that explain his legions of loyal fans:

Exceptional football talent

  • Cantona was a phenomenally gifted player with great technique, creativity, and intelligence.
  • He scored many crucial goals for Manchester United and other clubs.
  • His skills, vision, and ingenuity wowed fans and peers alike.
  • Managers like Sir Alex Ferguson considered him instrumental to their success.

Winning Mentality

  • Cantona hated losing and gave 100% effort to win games.
  • He was determined to succeed against the odds and inspired teammates to up their game.
  • Fans admired his central role in Manchester United’s dominance.

Charisma and showmanship

  • Cantona played with style, panache, and authority that made him a fan favorite.
  • His chipped goals, long-range strikes, and no-look passes amazed crowds.
  • His iconic raised collar and rebellious attitude added to his allure as the ultimate showman and anti-hero.

Loyal personality

  • Despite his flaws, Cantona was loyal to his teammates and clubs.
  • He performed well consistently for the main clubs he played for.
  • Teammates said he was welcoming and bonded well with other players.

Did Cantona’s Pros Outweigh His Cons?

Overall, despite his controversies, most football experts and fans look back fondly on Eric Cantona’s legacy in English football. The pros of his footballing genius, winning attitude, charisma, and loyalty outweighed the negatives of his temper, arrogance, and unconventionality.

Some key points:

  • The success he delivered far outweighed the headaches he caused managers at times.
  • His PFA Player of the Year awards and integral role in Manchester United’s rise showed his true value.
  • Fellow greats like Sir Alex Ferguson, Ryan Giggs, and Paul Scholes testify to his positive impact.
  • His iconic status remains strong decades later as seen by films, books, and tributes made about Cantona.
  • While discipline could have been better, he was no worse than other fiery talents like Roy Keane who are still admired by fans.

Ultimately, Cantona’s footballing genius will be his lasting legacy, not the occasional controversies. For most fans today, the positives overwhelm the negatives when reflecting on his stellar career.


In conclusion, Eric Cantona is a footballing great who is also a divisive figure. His aggressive behavior, egotism, unconventionality, and controversial statements have antagonized some football fans over the years. However, most experts and devoted fans believe Cantona’s footballing talent, winning mentality, charisma, and loyalty to teammates outweighed his negatives.

While a temperamental genius, his instrumental role in Manchester United’s rise and lasting iconic status confirm he was a legendary player overall despite the controversies. Cantona’s pros and cons will continue to be debated, but his footballing achievements endure as his defining legacy.

FAQs About the Polarizing Reactions to Eric Cantona

Cantona’s eventful career and complex persona still raise many questions for football fans today. Here are 5 key FAQs about the polarized reactions he continues to elicit:

Was the 8-month ban for kicking a fan deserved?

Most football authorities and fans agreed it was well-deserved, being an unprovoked act of violence. While the fan’s insult was wrong, Cantona grossly overreacted. The ban served as a strong deterrent against player violence.

Did Cantona truly play a key role in Manchester United’s success?

Yes, most Man United historians consider him instrumental to their ascent in the 1990s. Cantona was the final piece of the jigsaw, providing flair, creativity and a winning mentality to achieve dominance.

Is Cantona overrated as a player?

No, his stats and achievements confirm elite footballing ability. Cantona scored over 80 goals for top clubs and won multiple trophies. Peers like Sir Alex Ferguson rated him as one of the best ever.

Was Cantona’s ‘King Eric’ self-image arrogant?

Partly yes, but Cantona also said it with irony and humor. It fit his anti-establishment persona. Most teammates confirm he was welcoming, not arrogant behind the scenes.

Did the good outweigh the bad with Cantona?

Most fans agree his positives ultimately outweighed any negatives. His genius, success, loyalty and charisma outshone his flaws. The occasional controversies were a small price to pay for his contributions.

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