Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King by Philippe Auclair

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Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King by Philippe Auclair

Category: Sport
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Interesting read about one of football's true recent legends.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: August 2009
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 978-0230706347

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Even though I'm not a Manchester United fan, Eric Cantona is one of my all time favourite players and I was really excited to get the opportunity to read a book which was billed as revealing his innermost thoughts, and being the definitive account of his career.

In most ways, I was really impressed by the book - it told me lots that I didn't know about his time as a footballer and I particularly enjoyed the second half or so, about the time spent in England playing for Leeds and Manchester United. Auclair has obviously done his research - there's a bunch of comments from people close to Eric and some quotes from the man himself, although they're recycled ones from old interviews rather than anything new. There's some really interesting stories about the likes of Steve Bruce, David Beckham, Lee Chapman and of course manager Alex Ferguson.

There's also an insight into the infamous kung fu kick on a Crystal Palace fan and the response to that. The accounts of his first seasons of his time in England are brilliant - mostly done game by game, referring to things like Kevin Keegan's famous "I would love it if we beat them" rant and other classic 90's moments. My only issue with the last part of the book is that it skims over his last season very quickly. The book talks about Cantona getting bored with football but it almost seems like the author's bored with writing about Eric winning more Premier League titles and just wants to get it finished! Still, that's only a small problem as the accounts of all the other seasons are excellent.

I found the first part of the book, when he was playing in France, to be a bit less interesting but that was probably due to not really knowing that much about foreign football - I'm sure that fans who had more knowledge of the scene on the continent would really enjoy it.

One slight drawback was that the book was pretty much only about his playing career - to be honest I was quite glad to be spared the massive amount of boyhood memories that you find in some biographies; on the other hand it's now twelve years since he's retired and he's gone on to become a film star and manager of the French beach soccer team - it would have been nice to read a bit about those things.

Similarly, there wasn't too much about Eric's family - a few brief mentions about Isabelle, his wife at the time, and a tiny bit about his two kids. It seemed like the author could have talked more about the effect that his move to England and his huge fame, plus the media backlash over the kung fu kick, had on them.

All in all though this was an interesting read which gave some really good insight into an exciting player and I think all Manchester United fans, and most other football fans, would really enjoy it.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Anyone who liked this would almost certainly also enjoy The Boss: The Many Sides of Alex Ferguson by Michael Crick.

Buy Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King by Philippe Auclair at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King by Philippe Auclair at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King by Philippe Auclair at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King by Philippe Auclair at Amazon.com.


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