Eric Cantona ‘wishes he’d have kicked Crystal Palace fan harder’

Manchester United legend Eric Cantona only has one regret about the infamous ‘kung fu’ incident on 25 January 1995 when he leapt into the stands at Selhurst Park to kick an abusive Crystal Palace fan – he wishes he had kicked him ‘even harder’.

The flashpoint came as Cantona was being shown a red card after finally losing his temper with the close attention of Palace defender Richard Shaw and lashing out at his marker. Palace fan Matthew Simmonds had then run down 11 rows to front of the stand to hurl obscenities at Cantona.

The Frenchman, who had been the catalyst for United winning back-to-back Premier League titles in 1992/93 and 1993/94 and on course for a third, jumped over the hoardings at Simmonds, connecting with a high kick, as well as landing some punches.

Cantona was immediately suspended by United for the rest of the season, despite the harm it would do to their hopes of winning a third straight title and second consecutive domestic double. The FA later increased the ban until the end of the following September, while he was even handed an initial two-week prison sentence that was later reduced to community service.

United lost both the Premier League title and the FA Cup final in 1995 and Cantona eventually returned to a very different United side in October 1995, with several more established players sold in his absence and replaced by a young group of home-grown stars. But he once more proved to be the catalyst for a fresh wave of success, with both his own quality and serving as a leader.

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