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Eric Cantona – The Most Influential Footballer Of The Last 10 Years

By Alex Netherton

Eric Cantona is the most influential footballer of the last 10 years. Unfortunately for a website with the comments enabled, this isn’t an opinion: it is indisputable fact.

Eric Cantona won five titles in six years. Being French, he had a year off. Being Cantona, he had a year off because he broke the fourth wall of football, in a valiant attempt to break the face of a particular vermin at Selhurst Park. Now, to anyone with any sense of justice, which cannot be separated from misanthropy, that’s better than winning a title.

Cantona brought justice and violent retribution to football in the most irrepressible and undeniably fair manner that football has seen. Football in the late 1980s and early 1990s in England had an accepted violent streak. Roy Keane could do this to Neil Pointon. Gordon Strachan could exist. Cantona has influenced what we get now by carrying this into the late nineties, but highlighted the failings in the modern footballer by just doing it so much better. Admire his blackout rage funks on YouTube, and compare it to the sullen self-pitying vengeance of David Beckham at the World Club Championships in 2000 or John Terry and Jamie Carragher in their whole lives.

I don’t want to be down on football, and life, all the time, but Cesc Fabregas is the only footballer in the Premier League who has taken his team from one era into another – the only worthwhile constant from the notoriously quiet arse end of the Invincible Highbury Gunners to the notoriously quiet posh seats (every seat) of the Emirates. Cesc is no stranger to the Footballers’ Arrogant Funk. How has he defined his rage at injustice and the existence of other people? He’s kicked a fan in the face. Hang on, that should read: He’s thrown pizza at an old bloke and gobbed at Brian Horton. Well done Cesc!

Of course Le Funk wasn’t just deserving of whole-hearted adulation for chinning idiots. He was a fantastically adept footballer without this. He possessed such technical brilliance that he played with just one arm for balance, using the other to flick insouciant Vs at The Whole World. He was unlike Wayne Rooney (mentor – his own idiot savant), Robbie Fowler (mentor – Roy Evans) or Paul Gascoigne (mentor – self-destruction) where people argue that to take away their mojo would make them less effective. He had his own advisor, who saw past the troubles the world would enforce upon him for his self-conviction, to see an effectiveness that meant Jean-Pierre Papin named him as his favourite team-mate. His mentor was a man of such talent that he was a member of the second best midfield of the modern era – the French midfield of the 1980s – Michel Platini. How does that compare, ‘Robbie‘?

The best midfield of the modern era, to clarify, was the three geniuses – Giggs. Scholes. Keane. Sessions Beckham. Yes, Ferguson contributed to this, but the four were predestined to achieve a measure of greatness in that combination. What is remarkable is not that Ferguson gave them his USP, the at times absurd commitment to victory, but that in these four you can see the four finest points of Cantona. Keane, the rage as leadership, Beckham, the perfection from practice, Scholes, the best English technical player of all time, and Giggs, the ‘ability’ to be perplexingly indulged by Ferguson, only to display unexpected patches of inspiring and important form.

The notion of his important form is the most compelling reason to accept – and you have to accept – that Cantona is the most influential footballer of the last ten years. Without his form in the preposterous 1-0 Cantona/Schmeichel victories, you wouldn’t have Manchester United as the overarching force in The Premiership. For Newcastle United, you wouldn’t have Kevin Keegan’s self-implosion or Alan Shearer’s disgusting and demonstrably unjustifiable, in comparison, self-belief. For Arsenal, you would not have the template of arrogance backed up by ability of Thierry Henry or the notion of a talismanic player uniquely reflecting an entire club’s values in Fabregas. You would not have the persistent attempts of fans to indulge the most grotesque personalities of the lowest of the low, Terry and Lampard, if it wasn’t for the knowledge that once there was a remarkable spiritual connection between one footballer and thousands in a crowd. You would not have all the good of English football, and you would not be aware of the consistent shortcomings of every player, and every other human being you will ever meet, if it wasn’t for Eric.

Lastly, he did this.

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By Ollie Irish on May 9th, 2010 in Featured, Man Utd, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
comments

35 Responses to “Eric Cantona – The Most Influential Footballer Of The Last 10 Years”

  1. Ollie says:

    Brilliant stuff, Netherton.

  2. RoM Reads says:

    [...] Who Ate All The Pies has a great article on Cantona. [...]

  3. Rob Smyth says:

    best piece ever man

  4. yuan says:

    idiot player!

  5. Alex says:

    Yuan, you’re right, I agree. He was the best player ever.

  6. The overlord of gas says:

    This ridiculous incoherent hero worship from a sycophant frog lover must be stoped i will deal with him on monday.

  7. Chris says:

    Great article Alex.

    It’s got to be Dennis Bergkamp for me though.

  8. Alex says:

    Chris,

    I’ll bite. Why?

  9. Chris says:

    I’ve had a bit of a man-crush on him since about 1995.

  10. mizman says:

    that picture at the end always gets me……. John curtis fanning sir alex ferguson. JOHN CURTIS

  11. w says:

    cesc is a little cunt to be honest

  12. Michael says:

    Bergkamp was the more technical player, but Cantona was more of a dick. And the English love their dicks.

  13. Tinez says:

    that’s because they’re huge

  14. Kipp says:

    Hate to be the one that said this but Cantona ceased playing in 1997. 13 Years ago. More like the last 20 years…

  15. [...] spiritual connection between one footballer and thousands in a crowd” — Cantona foreran and articulated “all the good of English football,” while also making one “aware of the consistent shortcomings of every player, and every other [...]

  16. Teamouse says:

    Eric is a legend

  17. jack white says:

    He hasn’t kicked a ball for 13 years so how could he be the most influential player of the past 10 years?

    And if he was that good how come he always played rubbish in the Champions League. All very well to stroll through Premier League games when Peter Schmeichel and Roy Keane have given you a platform to strut your stuff but why was he alwasy the first player to hide when United were up against it in the Champions League?

    And how come he was a complete embarrassment in Euro 92, his only appearance at a major finals?

    The difference between Cantona and truly great players is that Cantona only rose to the small occasion.

  18. Jimbo says:

    How can Cantona be the most influential player of the last 10 years when he retired in 1997???? Helllo???

  19. Ollie says:

    If you read the piece fully, chaps, you’ll realise that you don’t have to still be playing to exert an influence. Or, Picasso is still a huge influence on modern artists, and I believe he’s dead.

  20. alex says:

    Jack,

    I believe if you read it the whole way through, you might realise you’re talking cock. Please fuck off!

    Bye!

  21. alex says:

    Ollie,

    Presactly.

  22. Stevie the K says:

    he wasn’t bad in “Elizabeth” either

  23. spectator says:

    gary neville is trying to look up eric’s toga.

  24. libertina says:

    A brilliant player and a beautiful man. They don’t make them like him any more. I’ll always love him.

  25. [...] Finally, Who Ate All The Pies eulogises Eric Cantona, and arrives at the conclusion that he was “the most influential [...]

  26. [...] Eric Cantona – The Most Influential Footballer Of The Last 10 … [...]

  27. [...] 4.07pm As there’s no football to watch, let’s do some nostalgia. Starting with Eric Cantona, “the most influential player of the last 10 years“. [...]

  28. Dave says:

    The greatest article ever to be written ten years too late. Sorry, but are you having a laugh?

  29. Anonymous says:

    TOTALLY ENGLISHCENTRIC PERSPECTIVE!

    There’s barely a player or team mentioned that isn’t in or played in England. You do know there was football outside of England right? And what about Zidane and Ronaldo and not C. Ronaldo. Much greater influence for my money. but then again they didn’t play in England and seems to me the English only know English football. Not to mention i think Cantona retired more then 10 years ago so it’s been too long.

  30. Derrick says:

    TOTALLY ENGLISH-CENTRIC PERSPECTIVE!

    There’s barely a player or team mentioned that isn’t in or played in England. You do know there was football outside of England right? And what about Zidane and Ronaldo and not C. Ronaldo. Much greater influence for my money. but then again they didn’t play in England and seems to me the English only know English football. Not to mention i think Cantona retired more then 10 years ago so it’s been too long.

  31. alex says:

    Derrick,

    Comments from cunts aren’t required, sorry.

  32. Matt says:

    What a load of one eyed manc-centric shit.

  33. DaveAngel says:

    I’ll give you one statistic which shows demonstrates how influential this man was. When he returned from the Kung Fu ban, he was put in to a reserve game.

    Over 21,000 showed up for that reserve game.

  34. alexiscamarda says:

    I agree, Eric Cantona is simply the king. I have always been a big fan and my interests peaked when I learned he was in Ken Loach’s new film, “Looking for Eric.” I saw it the other day and loved how Loach tied in Cantona’s soccer skill by using past video clips. Also, it was nice to see Cantona’s softer side, Nick Green (Soccer Columnist, Daily News) spouts, “It reveals a compassionate and self-deprecating side to his personality that never was apparent on soccer field–” which is very true. If you’re a fan of Cantona’s athletic ability, you will be blown away by his inspirational acting. Go check it out, after all he “is not a man, he is Cantona.”

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