24/05/2012 04:48 BST

Manchester United Legend Eric Cantona Turns 46 Today, Here's His Greatest And Near-Great Goals (VIDEO)

"1966 was a great year for English football," read a Nike poster in the mid-90s. "Eric was born." it concluded.

Cantona was the perennial catalyst to end Manchester United's 26-year wait for the English championship when he signed in November 1992 for £1.25m from Leeds United, and that grants him immortality at Old Trafford.


A Division One winner with the Whites in 1992, the enfant terrible nevertheless retained his impetuous streak at Elland Road, and it was only under Alex Ferguson where he found, as he said himself, "happiness" as a footballer.


His first two seasons were trophy-laden. United won their first ever double in 1993/94 after their eighth title crown, with the Frenchman top scoring with 25 goals and bagging two in the FA Cup final against Chelsea.

ARSENAL, 1993/94

Amidst the quarter-of-a-century of strikes were, as the videos will attest, a catalogue of stunning strikes, with varying techniques.

QPR, 1993/94

Yet there were dark moments too. Two successive sendings off against Swindon Town and Arsenal (the latter harshly), after a red card against Galatasaray in November, were the precursor for true madness on 25 January 1995.


His kung-fu kick on Crystal Palace supporter Matthew Simmons initiated a nationwide witch-hunt against him, except amongst United supporters, who paid tribute to the striker literally going over the edge 10 years later at the same ground by donning Cantona masks.

ARSENAL, 1995/96

An eight-month ban followed, with his return coming on 1 October, when he assisted Nicky Butt's opener and scored the equaliser in a 2-2 draw at home to Liverpool.

It was the first of 20 goals in another double triumph, with the Reds' talisman volleying the winner against the Anfield club at Wembley in the cup final.


His retirement a year later was typical: spontaneous and shocking, but he left an enormous legacy not just at United but on English football. It's no wonder Nike and Sky have continued to use him as a marketing tool well over a decade after he retired.

Enjoy his above-embedded great goals, and the following near-great goals...

CHELSEA, 1993/94

EVERTON, 1993/94