'My first love' Leeds United fans memories of 'ooh aah Cantona'

Where were you when you heard about the sale of the century?

Sunday, 9th May 2021, 4:30 pm
Eric Cantona looks out onto a sea of fans during a civic reception for Leeds United after winning the First Division title.
Eric Cantona looks out onto a sea of fans during a civic reception for Leeds United after winning the First Division title.

This writer was at university and after reading Ceefax he remembers as clear as day hot footing it from his student digs up the road to a phone box to ring Leeds United's premium rate clubcall to try and make sense of the decision to sell Eric Cantona to the Red Devils.

It felt like a love affair that had ended too soon. Yet what a whirlwind nine months of stand out magic moments and memories he had provided for the Elland Road faithful on the way to the First Division title and beyond.

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Eric Cantona in action during his debut against Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park in February 1992. PIC: Getty

He came off the bench at Boundary Park in February 1992 to cries of 'he's fast, he's quick, he can catch a french stick, Cantona' before scoring on his home debut against Luton Town at Elland Road the same month.

A generation of those Whites watching will forever remember his goal against Chelsea at Elland Road when he produced a sublime lob over Blues defender Paul Elliott before volleying home.

And then there were his two hat-tricks within the space of a month in the summer of 1992. The first came at Wembley as he helped Leeds United beat Liverpool to lift the Charity Shield. The second against Tottenham Hotspur under the Elland Road floodlights proved history making, being the first scored of the new Premier League era.

And in between the goals there was all Cantona's flicks and tricks and thrills and spills to enjoy from a player who boasted bags of va va voom.

Your YEP has asked the Elland Road faithful to share their memories of a player who had it, that je ne sais quoi.

Responses included:

Glynn Davies - "I was a Leeds season ticket holder living in Fulham, west London. We had no game the weekend after Cantona signed (presume due to knocked out of the cup). Leeds had arranged a friendly against Gothenburg from Sweden and Cantona was going to play. Much to my girlfriends disgust I woke up the morning of the friendly and decided to go to the game to see how good Cantona was. He was a genius and although he wasn’t at Elland Road all that long, his Leeds career lasted longer than my relationship with that girlfriend did."

Steve Hashtag Hayles - "Definitely the hat-trick at Wembley. I missed the coach home from over celebrating Arrived back in town at 6am. A very long but euphoric night and the missus ignored me for weeks because I had joked about having a night on the town in the capital and she was convinced we missed it deliberately! Best of all was the mate I travelled with was a Liverpool fan. I bought the tickets so he had to endure defeat in our end."

Kevin Clarke - " Loved the goal v Chelsea at Elland Road."

Steve Goodwill - "The ‘inside then outside’ goal against Chelsea in the 3-0 win in 1992. I think Paul Elliott is still wandering around Lowfields Road looking for him!"

Lee Abbott - "Goal against Chelsea. One of the best I’ve ever seen."

Andrew Campey - "My mate’s buddy spent a grand on 'ooh aah Cantona' t-shirts he was going to flog down at the ground and he got transferred to Manchester before the next home game."

Ian Taylor - "Went to Oldham for his debut. He was on the bench and Chapman was injured so Speed was up front that day. Never in my life had I seen so many press photographers crowded round the dugout taking snaps of big Eric before kick off."

Lance Goodenough - "His hat-trick against Liverpool at Wembley 1992. All three goals were ace. Shame we let him go."

Mark Cockayne - "His goal against Chelsea flicked it over the defenders."

Dave Rowson - " After his great goal against Chelsea in title winning season he came into United fisheries after the game for fish & chips. He had left the car door open with keys in ignition outside. We told him that wasn’t a good idea."

Bobby Williamson - " His hat-trick against Tottenham in 92. Pretty sure it was a midweek game. He was brilliant that night."

Andrew Bluck - " The goal he scored against Chelsea at home was one of the best pieces of skill I've seen from the camera angle from the West Stand it looked a simple shot but it wasn't from the North East corner we saw how he did it as he ran into the six yard box. The ball was behind him he used his trailing angle the nudge the ball forward and in same motion took his shot. Brilliant skill."

John Raftree - "Started going to the games earlier just to watch him warm up, I've never done that for another player. You can imagine how I felt when he left us."

Howell Roberts - "Goal against Chelsea. Made England international Paul Elliott look like a novice."

Christopher Allen - "Getting a French shirt off him. The day he signed for Leeds after his press conference he went to his car/agents car and gave out shirts to a few off us outside the stadium all different shirts he had in an holdall. Love him or hate he didn't have to do that. But made about 10 fans day that day."

Phil Salmon - "At the time I loved him. Charity Shield, that goal against Chelsea. Why oh why we gave them him.(for peanuts) . One of the worst crimes ever made in football."

Matt Halliday (@MattHalliday86) - "This man was my first love."

Paul Williams (@paulwilliams105) - "The goal against Chelsea. My favourite Leeds goal ever."

Charles John (@Steve192447378) - "Was devastated when he left for them. He was my favourite player at the time."

Stephen Jowett - "92 Charity Shield vs Liverpool. Great game, great day, we won 4-3 Eric with a hat-trick."


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