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Manchester United Legend Eric Cantona Joins Premier League Hall Of Fame

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Manchester United Legend Eric Cantona Joins Premier League Hall Of Fame

Manchester United great Eric Cantona has become the third player to be inducted into the new Premier League Hall of Fame.

He reacted to the news in the most Cantona way possible, by saying in response: "I am very happy and very proud, but at the same time I am not surprised.

"I would've been surprised not to be elected!

"I have been lucky to play in this team, with wonderful players, a wonderful manager and wonderful fans. We won and it was the football I dreamed about because Manchester United, it's a club where they want to win things but in a good way."

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Thierry Henry and Alan Shearer were named as the first two entrants earlier this year, with six more legends to follow as voted for by the public. And the first name announced from the 23-man shortlist is the enigmatic, iconic former United No 7.

It's a fitting tribute as Cantona was the first real superstar of the Premier League era. His transfer from Leeds United - for a paltry £1.2 million in November 1992 - sparked the early Man United dominance of the Premier League's early years.

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Sir Alex Ferguson always credited Cantona, with his swagger and skill, of bringing not only goals but a different mentality to the Old Trafford dressing room, helping turn his side into serial winners.

With Cantona imperious in attack, Man United won four of the first five Premier League titles between 1992/93 and 1996/97.

But there was plenty of controversy to go with his 70 Premier League goals and 56 assists. The one season Man United failed to win the Premier League with Cantona in the squad was 1994/95 when he was shown a red card against Crystal Palace, then kung-fu kicked a goading Palace fan at Selhurst Park.

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A nine-month ban from football followed and Cantona almost quit the game, before being talked around by Ferguson, with whom he shared a special bond.

The hot-tempered French forward returned in the 1995/96 season and proved an experienced inspiration to the 'Class of 92' players such as David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.

His retirement at the age of 30 the following season came as a shock, but King Eric always trod his own path.

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Collar up, enigmatic expression, soaking in the adulation of the crowd, he was always box office just as much as he was a danger in the box.

The first Premier League icon, therefore a very deserving member of the Premier League's Hall of Fame.

All imagery: Premier League/PA Images

Topics: Manchester United, Premier League, Eric Cantona

Alex Reid
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