>Profiles in Not Giving a Fuck: Eric Cantona

>There are some days when I have the urge to write about something but I just… I just don’t know what.  Beyond a nagging feeling in my chest, I’ve got nothing.

Then there are days like today.  When a story falls right into my lap, observed with a satisfied sigh and a smile.  And I thank God to be alive.

In an interview with the BBC’s Football Focus that aired this weekend, former Manchester United forward Eric Cantona reflected upon one of the more outrageous moments of his fourteen year career.

On January 25th, 1995, Cantona straight up drop kicked a fan in the throat.  

Right about here.

This is why I do what I do.


Cantona, who back in the day, looked like the lost Gallagher brother, was born in Marseille and finished his considerable career with Manchester United in 1997.  In 2001, he was voted the club’s “Player of the Century” and in 2002 was one of the first inductees of the English Football Hall of Fame, despite earning caps with the French National Football Team every year between 1985 and 1995.  Dude was 6’2″ and raked in 161 goals in his career.  Like Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Eric Cantona was the sort of athlete who’s prowess on the field was every bit as formidable as his mental agility, wit, and grace.  He has since gone on, in addition to being Director of Football for the New York Cosmos, to    make a career for himself as an actor and has publicly expressed very defined political views.

Before we get to the aforementioned kick-in-the-fucking-throat, let’s recap really quickly.

  • In 1987, playing for France for the third year in a row, Cantona was fined for punching his teammate, Bruno Martini, in the face.
  • In 1988, Cantona was banned from international play that year for insulting the French coach on national television.
  • In 1989, “King Eric” kicked the ball into the crowd and ripped off his jersey when he was substituted in a game against Torpedo Moscow.  It was a scrimmage game.
  • He was transferred to Montpellier at that point, where he was swiftly involved in a conflict with Jean-Claude Lemoult during which he flung Lemoult’s boots at his face area.  Despite six players calling for his removal, he was ultimately only suspended ten days.
  • In 1991, having disagreed with a referee’s call, Cantona threw the ball at his face area.  At his disciplinary hearing, he was suspended for one entire month’s play.  In response, Cantona walked up to every judge, one at a time, and called him an “idiot”.  The suspension was upped to three months.
In 1992, he totally banged your girlfriend while you were at the store.
  • He retired in 1991… for about twelve minutes.  He received an offer to come and play for Marseille, but on the advice of his psychotherapist (you know I’m not making that up) he moved to England to start over.
  • He won the Football League First Division Championship with Leeds United in 1991.  Then with Manchester United in 1992 – the only footballer to have won the title in consecutive years with two different teams.
  • In 1993, Cantona was fined for spitting at a fan and with two consecutive red cards, was banned for five games.
Then came the 1994 -1995 season and the Kung Fu shit.  
(I’ve included a longer version of this because context makes it so much sweeter)

After the game, Eric said this, and this only: “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.  Thank you very much.”  Then dude got up and left.  
He was initially sentenced with 120 hours of community service, probably smoking in slow motion or telling chicks they “picked the wrong dress today”.  Then he was fined twenty thousand pounds and suspended for the final four months of the season.  Then the ban was upped to eight months.  Then he was fined again.  Then the large women.  Then the petite women.  Then the large women again.  
But here’s the fucking thing.  The guy Cantona randomly selected out of thirty thousand people to kick?  A young man named Matthew Simmons.  Who had violently attacked a Sri Lankan gas station attendant two years prior and attended a National Front rally.  You might recognize that name because it essentially means “British Nazis”.

Matthew Simmons was fined and banned from ever attending a match in England ever again.  Also Wales, for some reason.

He didn’t kick the single father with cancer.  Or the guy who occasionally cheats on his taxes every couple of years.  No, no, Eric Cantona randomly selected and then kicked the fucking Nazi.
And that is a magical thing.

In this weekend’s interview, he was asked about the incident.  He said he had a “great feeling” about the attack at the time and he’s happy it’s a memory for some fans to look back on and cherish.  “People have their jobs,” he said, “this was like a freedom.”  He goes on, “I did it for the people.”

“Ah, ’67.  A good year for tiger piss.”

Long live the King.