#2 Eric Cantona
An enigmatic character who was as talented with quips in an over-crowded press conference as he was with the ball at his feet, the Frenchman brought life and exuberance wherever he went. There was rarely a dull moment when “Le Roi” (the King) was the centre of attention and he made it his business to be exactly that more often than not.
A fearless striker who thrived on individuality, his Premier League exploits saw him plunder four titles during his stay with Manchester United during the 1990s and he did it all with style...and a splash of controversy, too.
Whatever about his faults, however, Cantona was the lifeblood of showmanship in English football and his impressive collection of 70 league goals between his spell with Leeds and his more memorable sojourn with the Red Devils meant that it was always going to be sad seeing him depart the beautiful game.
The fact he exited centre stage aged just 31 made it more difficult to stomach as he could have given so much more to not only his own team but to the larger community of neutral football fans.
Alas, his hunger for the game had long been satisfied and although he regretted it a little later on (something underlined by his eagerness to win the Beach Soccer World Cup in 2005), his heart clearly wasn’t in it at the time of retirement, so it was probably for the best, leaving his reputation intact.Published 11 Dec 2015, 07:31 IST