Between the Lines

"Of all unimportant subjects, football is the most important" – Pope John Paul II

Review: Cantona – The Rebel Who Would Be King

Posted by hakanrylander on September 30, 2009

Cantona the rebel who“I have never and will never find difference between the pass from Pelé to Carlos Alberto in the final of the World Cup in 1970, and the poetry of the young Rimbaud.”

Let’s face it, there’s no way you would attribute this quote to John Terry, Steven Gerrard or even Gary Neville. Or for that matter any player in the history of the Premier League, other than Eric Cantona. Cantona stands out during the last 20 years of English football not only for his skills but also for his attempts to lift football to the level of the fine arts (where it belongs, of course) while other, darker parts of his personality made hot-headed attacks on coaches, opponents or spectators.

The French journalist Philippe Auclair manages to shed light on several aspects of this complex personality, and the book therefore rises head and shoulders above the average football biography. The research is very thorough, including about 200 interviews, but the subject himself has not been interviewed or in any other way contributed.

Until he arrived at Old Trafford Cantona regularly fell out with coaches and chairmen and didn’t stay for long at any club. One of Auclair’s theses is that throughout his career Cantona was looking for a father figure that he could trust and who trusted him, and that Alex Ferguson managed to strike just the right balance by giving the player a bit of latitude.

A must read.

But first, please try to spot the difference: PeléRimbaud.

Philippe Auclair: Cantona – The Rebel Who Would Be King (Pan Macmillan)


One Response to “Review: Cantona – The Rebel Who Would Be King”

  1. The Gaffer said

    Philippe Auclair is a terrific writer. The effort and time he put into this book won’t go unnoticed. I also have Cantona’s autobiography (though Eric had a ghost writer)and that, to be honest is lacking compared to this biography.

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