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Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King Hardcover – 21 Aug 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 469 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; 1st edition (21 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230706347
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230706347
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 15.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 199,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

PHILIPPE AUCLAIR has been a correspondent with France Football for over a decade, and is a prolific freelance journalist on both sides of the Channel. He is also Radio Monte Carlo's main match commentator, and a bestselling author in his native France. He lives in London.

Product Description


'Here, at last, is a definitive account of Cantona's extraordinary life...Auclair writes with an elegance most native sportswriters might envy...A truly great book...' --GQ

`An imaginative and groundbreaking book' --Kevin McCarra, Guardian

'At once elegant and exhaustive... This book, about an outstanding gifted footballer by an outstandingly accomplished journalist. A tour de force.' --Brian Glanville, World Soccer

`A meticulously detailed examination of a fascinating character... an unusual book, one that might just usher in a new age of football biography.`
--Jonathan Wilson, 4-4-2 Magazine

Book Description

The definitive biography of one of the most extraordinary men the world of football has ever seen --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jim VINE VOICE on 3 Feb. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Phillipe Auclair is a widely respected French football writer and author, and long term resident of London. In combining an outsider's perspective of the Premier League with an insider's view of its French stars he is one of the most interesting voices on contemporary football. In many ways he is the natural person to write a biography of Eric Cantona.

By and large he does a good job in this lengthy and exhaustive work, but "Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King" - like its subject - is far from perfect.

For a start its tone is rather uneven, and while parts are elegantly written other sections can be plodding and prone to Auclair's digressions. He is also fixated with the factual errors in Cantona's English autobiography, but really he should look closer to home before criticising other authors.

For example Cantona was not the first foreign player to win the English league and FA Cup double, that was Jan Molby - and for Manchester United Cantona shared the feat with Andrei Kanchelskis, which merits no mention. Mickael Madar's stay in England was not as inauspicious as Auclair makes out: indeed he practically saved Everton from relegation in 1997/98. He also seems to get the year of the Hillsborough disaster wrong.

He uses the example of record numbers of Daily Telegraph readers removing Cantona from their fantasy football teams after the kung fu kick on Matthew Simmons as an example of fans adopting "the moral high ground" ("a comfortable place to be," he sneers), but weren't they just protecting themselves from his inevitable ban?

Although the author is a long-time resident in England, his contacts seem to be mostly French. This is fine up to a point, but the blow-by-blow account of Cantona's career in Ligue 1 becomes boring very quickly.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. Pajaczkowski on 3 Sept. 2009
Format: Hardcover
A meticulously researched and elegantly written homage to one of the legends of the modern game. Mr Auclair never attempts to conceal his bias but the unflinching accuracy of his narrative of Cantona's career is compelling and, in the end, persuasive. As a football journalist Auclair is obviously an "insider" but he eschews gossip and rumour, choosing instead to search for the deeper philosophical, cultural, and economic connections between the man and the game.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Lewis Huxley on 22 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
First of all I would like to say that this is a fantastic book on the subject of one of the most fascinating characters certainly in football, if not in all sports. Auclair has managed to write a comprehensive account of Cantona's life right up until he retired from football in 1997 and there is even references from sources written beyond this date to make it easily the best book on the market on this particular subject.

However there are two major concerns from myself. The first is as a result of the author's constant nitpicking of Eric's ghost-written autobiography from 1994, 'Cantona: My Story', which he regularly puts down for its lack of content and factual inaccuracies. With regards to the former, Auclair's book certainly puts it to shame, however the latter gave me the impetus to begin nitpicking with this particular book and found dozens of mistakes based on dates, scorelines, names and even many spelling errors- Manchester United physio Rob Swire being referred to as Robert Swaires stands out.

The second of my concerns is due to the content of his time in England in which Auclair unnecessarily refers to almost every single game that Cantona played in and divulges his contribution to each of them. Though this is informative it is hardly insightful into the greater workings of Cantona. He brings attention to this in the final chapter so it is obviously something that is shared by the author but surely some editing could have negated any reason to share this with the reader at all?

As I say this is the best book on Eric Cantona and I enjoyed reading it but it is still not a masterpiece in the world of sports biographies.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Fiona Hope on 2 Sept. 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is an astonishing work that not only raises the bar for all sports biographies, it sets a new benchmark for biographies in general. Impeccably sourced and laden with personal insight I came away with a much better understanding of the genius that is Eric. This is an absolute must for all sports fans especially for those who have admired Eric for so long as he is finally revealed in all his three-dimensional and flawed but human glory.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. J. Hall on 15 Feb. 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is the best bio I've read in years. It explains the man behind the star. I feel I know more about The King than just his great performances and goals. If there was a facility to give a bonus star, I would. Just a small point, my copy has 469 pages, so maybe I have a bonus 200+ pages! Cantona and Goerge best; the two best players the game has ever had. This book; the best bio.
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By CorkRebel67 on 8 Jun. 2011
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book with a little trepidation given that you should never study your heroes too closely less you discover feet of clay. I'm a United fan since 1974 and, alongside Bryan Robson, rank Cantona as the greatest Red I've personally seen (I was never honoured to see Law, Best and Charlton play).

I shouldn't have worried in that I came away from Auclair's work even more intrigued by Cantona the man as I was awed by Cantona the footballer. This is a wonderful read - packed full of detail, anecdotes and devotion to the subject at hand. Anyone who, like me, watched in fascination as Cantona helped spark United's revival in 1992/93 will love every page of this book.

To be honest, it isn't your tradition sports biog - but is all the more appealing as a result. I'd also consider it pretty accessible for even non-football fans. All in all, I'd unhesitatingly recommend this book - if you're a United fan it is simply a must-read.

My only regret is that Cantona called it quits when he did - and didn't get to win Champions League medal as a Red. But the current all-conquering crop at Old Trafford owe their perch to this remarkable, occasionally frustrating French genius. Sardines and trawlers indeed.
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