Eric Cantona 7 best acting moments

Eric Cantona
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Eric Cantona retired from football at the age of 30. Leaving the sport at the very top, the Frenchman told the world that there was more to life for him than just the beautiful game.

And so ensued a completely different career altogether. In typically Gallic fashion, former forward moved to the arts and became an actor. He's worked with a range of directors since – and brands, actually.

So we thought we'd round up the best of what the big man has brought to the big screen. Oh, and a diehard Man City fan's music video.

1. Looking For Eric

In 2009, iconic director Ken Loach found the perfect way to get the maximum amount of Eric Cantona from a film that the Frenchman was starring in: by making it all about him.

Looking for Eric tells the story of a Manchester United fan, down on his luck, who begins seeing visions of his idol, naturally played by the King. It's heartwarming and self-aware both at once, with the football legend delivering a performance that feels real, where it would have been easy to parody himself. What seems like a gimmick is actually a brilliant film and one of Eric's best.

Watch Looking for Eric for £1.99 on Amazon (opens in new tab)

2. Once

It's the collaboration fans never dared to dream of. A partnership of two complete opposites who surely wouldn't even get on in private. No, not the reunion of Oasis – the pairing of frontman Liam Gallagher with Eric Cantona.

Liam is famously a die-hard City fan, making this feel a little like when Evertonian Paul McCartney started hanging out with Liverpool's European Cup winners. Fittingly for this video, Eric is cast as a monarch – at least no one can argue about that. 

3. Inhuman Resources

Netflix series Inhuman Resources stars Cantona as Alain Delambre, a senior executive exhausted after six long years of unemployment. The series details the incredible lengths he'd go to secure a job, including robbing from his daughters and taking part in a hostage-taking scenario.

This might be the best performance that Cantona has ever given in a role. The Frenchman is gripping, intense and actually, very believable – which is no mean feat. Well, could you imagine a man that aloof coming across as desperate?

Watch Inhuman Resources on Netflix (opens in new tab)

4. "Are you a farmer?"

The over-pronunciation of English words. The flicker in his eyes when the statue is being unveiled. The nod to the camera as he's about to chirpse an interested fan.

Cantona clearly has a sense of humour and out of all his TV ad work, this might be the funniest he's ever been. No, the ex-striker is not from Alsace – nowhere near, actually – but don't let that slight inaccuracy ruin what is an otherwise accurate depiction of hop farmers.

5. Marie and The Misfits

A French film from 2016, Marie and the Misfits again casts Cantona fittingly. The former footballer is a novelist and one of three men who find themselves on an island at the end of the Earth.

Perhaps it's thanks to the seagulls quote or maybe it's because of his artistry on a football field – but the eloquent characters usually go to Cantona. 

6. "First to 100 wins"

You get the feeling that this one was a lot of fun to film. Not just for the then-superstars of world football, galivanting around a storage container trying to out-Olé one another but for the a-list emcee, suited with his cane and quips.

The iconic Nike Cage adverts feel completely ad-libbed – even if they weren't. And while they'd have shown off the gear with or without Cantona, he gives added gravitas – a centre to the action that just makes sense. Well, as much sense as a boat-hosted freestyle football party can. 

7. Elizabeth

Before he was cast in adverts with Luis Figo and Roberto Carlos, Cantona was acting opposite Cate Blanchett, Christopher Eccleston and Geoffrey Rush. 

Some may say he was typecast too from his footballing days, as Paul de Foix, a French diplomat. Not only was it an early role for Eric, it was a big break for future Bond, Daniel Craig. Don't tell the King that Craig is a Liverpool fan, though…

Watch Elizabeth on Amazon Prime from £3.49 (opens in new tab)

CANTONA WEEK 

Eric Cantona week on FourFourTwo: 7 days of King Eric

King of the Kop? When Eric Cantona nearly signed for Liverpool

How Sheffield Wednesday turned down signing Eric Cantona

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