Who does not know Eric Cantona? This short wheeled dynamite once played for the English giants Manchester United. Although now no longer actively playing, Cantona’s name will always be an echo in the history of world football.
This player who is known to be fierce also quite often creates controversy. One of the most unforgettable moments happened on January 25, 1995. At that time, Eric Cantona led Manchester United to face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. At that time, the most controversial history in the world of football took place.
United’s lion named Eric Cantona was angry. He was disturbed when a supporter descended 11 steps to provoke him. The lion immediately attacked by releasing a kungfu kick which later became famous.
In the match against Palace, Cantona received a lot of pressure. Starting from provocation from the Palace defender, Richard Shaw, to the injustice of the referee in leading the match.
Manchester United itself was getting very depressed by the thrilling game of The Glaziers. Their front line was locked by the tight defense until the first round ended with a goalless draw.
Exactly in the 49th minute, Cantona had to be sent off for a violation of the opposing players. Cantona’s red card was followed by the quarrels of several Manchester United and Crystal Palace players.
Although surprised by what had just happened, Cantona accepted the referee’s decision and immediately left the field. This seemed normal before a Palace fan, named Matthew Simmons, descended several steps to cry out to the Frenchman.
As reported by the BBC, the fans issued harsh words. He shouted at Cantona with words,
“F *** off back to France!”
Suddenly, Simmons got what he wanted, which was Cantona’s attention. A direct kick launched by Cantona towards him! Not right on target, the legend then adds it with a few consecutive hits.
That day became history. People did not care about the final result. At that time, what was most remembered was Eric Cantona’s kung-fu kick which landed on a spectator.
After the match ended, Ferguson himself had reprimanded Cantona. Cantona’s teammate, Lee Sharpe, remembered how Cantona responded when Ferguson asked about his controversial actions.
At that time, Cantona said that he only wanted to do what he wanted, including kicking a supporter.
Following the controversy, Cantona received a lot of scorn. All the media talked about him. He was threatened with imprisonment although eventually getting freed and only replaced with social action for 120 hours.
Meanwhile, the FA’s disciplinary commission banned him to play for eight months.
Despite doing something controversial, Sir Alex Ferguson did not scold Cantona at all. According to his former colleagues, Fergie was gentle on Cantona.
Fergie even forbade Cantona to return to France and kept him in England. Until exactly on October 1, 1995, Cantona returned to the field accompanied by a noisy crowd.
Cantona’s face and the French flag are plastered in every corner of the city of Manchester. Manchester United’s duel against Liverpool at that time was the right stage to welcome the return of ‘The King’.
Until the end of the 1996/97 season, Cantona announced a surprising statement. He quitted football at the age of only 31 years.
Simmons, as the victim who was kicked by Cantona, got a lot of insults from British citizens. He was considered racist for saying rude words to Cantona.
Simmons was fired by the company that hired him. His behavior that defamed the family’s name also made his family not admit it.
When he told his story to the daily newspaper “The Sun”, Simmons did not even get the slightest reward.