When Man United icon Cantona rocked the football world at Crystal Palace

Throwback to when the Manchester United legend lost his shit against Crystal Palace

Few would debate that Eric Cantona was one of the best players the Premier League has ever seen.

His power, technique and penchant for scoring audacious goals (and lots of them) made him a hit with everyone at Old Trafford, not least Sir Alex Ferguson.

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The bullish Frenchman had inspired Ferguson’s side to greatness after his arrival from Leeds in 1992 (for a measly £1million), and, with his popped collar and maverick behaviour, went on to become a football icon for the ages.

But Cantona had an aggressive streak. Sometimes it would give him an edge: he’d rattle opponents, bowl defenders over and mug them off with his sublime skill.

Other times, it would manifest itself in far more detrimental and vicious ways.

Rewind to January 1995, when Cantona played the leading role in one of the most shocking moments in English football history.

‘The King’ had been dismissed for kicking out at Palace defender Richard Shaw, whose daunting task that day was to man-mark Cantona.

As Cantona performed his brainless tackle in front of the linesman, referee Alan Wilkie had little choice but to dismiss the striker, who lingered on the pitch before truly losing his rag.

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As Cantona walked towards the tunnel, Matthew Simmons, a 20-year-old Palace fan, rushed towards the front to confront the United player.

It’s up for debate what he said, but it was enough for Cantona to see red and lunge at Simmons, who caught the burly striker’s studs in the back.

Cantona was banned by the FA until the end of September 1995, and was found guilty of assault. He was initially sentenced to two weeks in jail, but it was later reduced to 120 hours community service.

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The incident still divides opinion among United fans. Does decking a fan add to Cantona’s cult status, or does it detract from his legend at the club?

Here’s Eric going medieval on Matthew Simmons:

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