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Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King [Hardcover]

Philippe Auclair
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

21 Aug 2009
Many have tried to persuade Eric Cantona to write his autobiography. He never will. Philippe Auclair has interviewed every key player in Cantona's life to produce a biography that reveals, for the first time, the heart and inner thoughts of this most extraordinary character. Cantona played for six different French clubs, making his international debut at twenty-one, before coming to England in 1992 and making an immediate impact with Leeds United. He transformed the team but became even more talismanic when he moved to Manchester United, where to this day Manchester United fans refer to him as 'King Eric'.Eric Cantona graced the Premiership like few others and he remains a deeply compelling figure to anyone who cares remotely about football. Cantona quotes: 'I'm so proud the fans still sing my name, but I fear tomorrow they will stop. I fear it because I love it. And everything you love, you fear you will lose.' 'I have never and will never find difference between the pass from Pele to Carlos Alberto in the final of the World Cup in 1970 and the poetry of the young Rimbaud.'

Product details

  • Hardcover: 469 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; 1st edition (21 Aug 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230706347
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230706347
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 15.8 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 312,320 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

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The thinking fan's biography 3 Sep 2009
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit like Eric...flawed genius 22 Nov 2009
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tour de Force 2 Sep 2009
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Cantona book 15 Feb 2010
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not Fantastique 29 May 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an interesting biography, which is much better written than others in the same genre. The author clearly knows his subject well, and the book therefore gives you very much a sense that you are receiving an unusually close insight into player's life and his psyche. However, the typographical errors let it down and to an extent spoil the enjoyment: Leeds United's Elland Road is misspelt throughout the whole book, for example.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
My pattner loves this fantastic birthday christmas presant
Published 5 days ago by Rosy
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book
If you like Cantona, you will like this book. You discover a lot about Cantona's life.
It's very easy to read.

Shipped very fast too.
Published 3 months ago by loops34
4.0 out of 5 stars Eric the King
Not read it as yet.
A book about Eric is always going to be good.
Looking forward to reading on my next lot of travels.
Published 10 months ago by Ian. Ruffell
1.0 out of 5 stars Bit boring
Well researched, but the writing style provides no flavour of the characters. I was sorry I bought it to be honest.
Published 19 months ago by Mr. Roy Hair
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Great book. Discovering more about the legend that is Eric Cantona is always a thrill.
Some fantastic whitty lines in there and great photos
Published 21 months ago by Ms. J. Somers
5.0 out of 5 stars the book that would be king
Not just a story but a pyschological explanation of one of the games greats. Insightful look in the turbulent career from an informed author who knows his subject. Read more
Published on 5 Aug 2011 by Mr D. Fleming
1.0 out of 5 stars cantona
not a good read rather boring in fact ,takes to long to get into the main story about a great player .
Published on 6 July 2011 by Mr. B. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Oui, Oui
I bought this book with a little trepidation given that you should never study your heroes too closely less you discover feet of clay. Read more
Published on 8 Jun 2011 by CorkRebel67
5.0 out of 5 stars Fitting Tribute
This is a great football biography of a player who is an all time legend at OT. The book gives an honest account of Eric's football career both in praise of his genius as a... Read more
Published on 14 Dec 2010 by King Eric
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just another money spinning sports bio...
For football fans who followed the premier league through the Cantona era, this makes for some excellent reading. Read more
Published on 23 Sep 2010 by tho
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