In the mag: Eric Cantona, 30 years on! PLUS Neil Lennon, best comebacks ever, Champions League, Geoff Hurst, John Beck's Cambridge and more
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First a message from our editor, James Andrew:
In April 1995, I headed to Old Trafford for the first time. It was for a Manchester United-Leeds game, and to be perfectly honest, it was rubbish – not least for someone who didn’t support either side.
But I do have two memories of that day; firstly, a teenage David Beckham making his Premier League debut. The second was how loud the rendition of ‘Ooh aah, Cantona’ was compared to every other song sung by the home fans.
It was just two months after Cantona had been banned for attacking Matthew Simmons – the chances are that he wasn’t there for that game between his current and former clubs, but it didn’t stop fans from showing their love. Go to Old Trafford even today and very little has changed.
Actually, I only saw Cantona play live once. It was in 2000, three years after he’d retired, and it came on a makeshift beach in west London. Around 4,000 fans were in Richmond where several ex-stars were on show – but there was only one man they wanted to see. Afterwards, the queue to meet Cantona was so long that the organisers started charging £20 for the privilege, and even doubled it later on. But those fans weren’t deterred – nobody draws like Eric...
Eric, 30 years on
They didn’t make them like him then, and still don’t now. Unapologetically enigmatic, the Frenchman spent his career thrilling and befuddling in equal measure – no one in football history carries an aura like the King. Cantona wowed, warred and often wounded , but thank God he came to English football three decades ago
Champions League: it's back!
The Champions League knockouts are so much fun, even the draw had to be done twice. FFT selects the storylines we’re most looking forward to following, in another madcap campaign of mayhem…
Neil Lennon answers YOUR questions
What was it like to receive a death threat? Why did he have a go at Ronaldinho? And what made him headbutt poor Alan Shearer's boot? The ex-Leicester and Celtic hero explains all...
Greatest European comebacks EVER
On-loan heroes, embarrassing complacency, Stasi-angering capitulation... and the match that literally changed football. FFT ranks the best Lazarus acts recorded on the continent
Meet Paris' cool originals
While Paris Saint-Germain go for Champions League glory with the most expensive side ever built, the French capital's heritage club are stuck in the third tier. Luckily for Red Star, football is only part of a team that captivates worldwide attention...
Geoff Hurst: '66 and all that
Sir Geoff provided English football with its greatest day , scoring a hat-trick in the 1966 World Cup Final – but how did he get there in the first place? And why did he anger a bloke while doing insurance sales later? FFT chats to the Three Lions legend himself...
John Beck's big bad Cambridge
Beck’s Cambridge United bullied their way from the fourth tier to the cusp of a newfangled Premier League in the early ’90s. It all ended in tears – but not before an, ahem, intriguing tactic revolution and host of dirty tricks
There's only one Barry Fry
After 60 years in the game, Peterborough’s long-serving director of football is still going strong – and as entertaining as ever. From being sacked 37 times by the same boss to signing George Best for Dunstable, he’s got a tale for everything…
Underneath the Archies
Archibald Leitch designed so many of our favourite grounds that one in three fans stood on his terraces or sat in his stands. Not bad for a guy whose first big commission led to deadly disaster…
In the Players Lounge...
Paul Merson remembers life with Gazza the housemate; ex-Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes explains why he angered Harry Redknapp; former Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani admits his Anfield regrets; and Mark Bright remembers giant-killing at Crystal Palace.
Going Around The Grounds...
Luton legend and current assistant Mick Harford tells FFT about his return from cancer treatment; columnist Ian Holloway remembers the time he demanded a journalist apologise to his centre-backs, while we bring you the story of Chester's inmate-turned-boxer Paddy Lacey.
Elsewhere, Blackpool are our club of the month for Best & Worst, there's justice for Chris Waddle and his alleged window-smashing at Worksop, but condemnation for Scunthorpe United and their horrific away kit of 1994. Seeing is believing...
In our fun opening section, Willian discusses his Arsenal regrets after a return to Brazil with Corinthians, while former cabinet minister Ed Balls explains how his love of Norwich City got him in trouble on Strictly Come Dancing.
We'll also bring you the story of Belgium's Leicester (featuring an ex-Pompey hero), Louis Saha's life-changing matches, remember when Dundee United had the better of Barcelona (er, again), and fill you in on the controversial Colombians who are owned by a notorious drug baron.
There's also our usual quiz and lots more madness from Planet Football – we hope you enjoy.
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Joe was the Deputy Editor at FourFourTwo until 2022, having risen through the FFT academy and been on the brand since 2013 in various capacities.
By weekend and frustrating midweek night he is a Leicester City fan, and in 2020 co-wrote the autobiography of former Foxes winger Matt Piper – subsequently listed for both the Telegraph and William Hill Sports Book of the Year awards.
By Conor Pope