What happened to the man Eric Cantona kung fu kicked?

Cantona week
(Image credit: Getty)

Eric Cantona's infamous kung fu kick on a fan at Selhurst Park was only the beginning of the story in January 1995. Further violence was to follow at the court hearing. 

During the trial in May 1996, Matthew Simmons claimed he had shouted "Off! Off! Off! It's an early bath for you, Mr Cantona!" – the Frenchman having been dismissed for challenge on Palace defender Richard Shaw. 

Cantona's defence denied this version of events, claiming what Simmons had actually shouted, "F*** off back to France you French bastard", before dubbing the Manchester United forward a "French animal" and his mother a "French whore". 

At Croydon Magistrates Court, Simmons was handed a £500 fine for abusive behaviour and also received a year-long stadium ban. Following the the verdict, the 21-year-old Simmons launched himself over the bench at Cantona's lawyer, kicking and grabbing prosecutor Jeffrey McCann. 

McCann, who was 55 at the time, was dealing with his final case before retirement. He managed to wriggle free but looked terrified and dishevelled. Court staff took Simmons away in handcuffs. During the attack on McCann, Simmons reportedly yelled, "I am innocent, I swear on the Bible."

Simmons was jailed for a week for the attack. The court also ordered Simmons to pay a £500 fine as well as £200 in legal costs. Cantona, meanwhile, was given a two week jail term, which was later reduced to 150 hours community service on appeal.

Years later, reflecting on the incident, Cantona said, “I did the kung-fu kick on the hooligan because these kind of people shouldn't be at games. It’s a dream for some to kick these kind of people. It’s not the kind of thing you see every day."

Eric Cantona week on FourFourTwo

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

• How Sheffield Wednesday turned down signing Eric Cantona

• Every club Eric Cantona played for: a potted history of the Frenchman's career

• Quiz! Can you name every club Eric Cantona scored against in the Premier League?

• Why did Leeds sell Eric Cantona to Manchester United?

• Year Zero: The making of Eric Cantona (Leeds/Manchester United, 1992/93)

• Does Eric Cantona have a Leeds tattoo? The truth behind the collar

• Ranked! Eric Cantona's 10 best goals

• Quiz! Can you name Eric Cantona's most frequent Manchester United team-mates?

• 7 best pieces of Eric Cantona memorabilia available to buy online

• Quiz! Can you name every club Eric Cantona played against in the Premier League?

• Ranked! The 16 best Premier League players of the 1990s

• Eric Cantona: the 7 most iconic quotes from the man himself

• Quiz! Can you name every player in the Nike Secret Tournament advert?

• Dominant, volatile and hijacked by cliché: why we still love Eric Cantona

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Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.