Sir Alex Fergerson once said he only ever had four world class players during his time at Manchester United. He listed Eric Cantona as one of them (Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs being the others) and with all the fantastic players that Fergie managed during his 26 year tenure in Manchester that is certainly high praise.
Cantona definitely was world class as his level of skill and technique was above most, if not all of his peers. That’s reflected in the goals that he scored and here are five of his best…
v Arsenal, Premier League, 1993
Most of Cantona’s best goals involve brilliant dribbling or a wonderful first touch, but this one is different as this showcases his ability to hit a thunderbolt.
It was a free kick to Manchester United, the ball was rolled to the side to an oncoming Eric Cantona, who hit a powerful strike that flew into the top corner. It was hit with such velocity and accuracy that even David Seaman couldn’t get to it.
v Liverpool, FA Cup, 1996
A FA Cup final against Liverpool is the perfect stage for a Manchester United legend to produce a big of magic which is just what Eric Cantona did in 1996.
The game was 0-0 in the 85th minute, then United got a corner. The ball was whipped in and the Liverpool keeper attempted to punch it away. It only went as far as Cantona at the edge of the area though, who hit it on the volley and it glided into the goal. The brilliance of the strike comes from the Frenchman having to back track to be able to hit the ball as it was behind him. It took great balance and improvisation to pull it off.
v Southampton, Premier League, 1993
World Class players make difficult things look easy and this goal is a perfect example of that.
Eric Cantona runs onto the ball on the edge of the area and with his first touch dinks the ball over the goalkeeper into the far corner. He hits the ball very nonchalantly like he’s passing to a teammate a few yards in front of him, but it’s an impeccably weighted chip that gives the keeper no chance.
v Wimbledon, FA Cup, 1994
This was a sensational goal.
The Wimbledon defender tried to head the ball away, but instead gave it straight to Cantona (big mistake). The Frenchman set the ball up flawlessly with his first touch then on the half turn, he hit a spectacular volley that was way too high for the goalkeeper to reach and it dipped at the ideal time to slide down the back of the net.
v Sunderland, Premier League, 1996
This is the most famous goal of Eric Cantona’s illustrious career. It’s just as well known for the celebration as it is for its quality.
Cantona dribbled past a few Sunderland players on the half way line then ran with the ball through the centre. He played a quick one-two and then as he received the ball again, he let it run across his body before producing an excellent chip over the goalkeeper into the inside of the post and in the back of the net. He was then calmness personified as he slowly turned and raised his arms up in the air in celebration.
From the build up to the finish to the celebration everything about this goal was special. It was not just Eric Cantona’s best goal, but it was one of the greatest Premier League goals of all time
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