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The Kop Cantona? How Luis Suarez could be this generation's answer to the Manchester United marvel

by Al 7. January 2013 04:56

The last time the Premier League saw a character as enigmatic and brilliant as Liverpool forward Luis Suarez, it was a dazzling Frenchman whose name is still sung on the terraces decades after exiting English football. Eric Cantona's legacy is like no other - but in Suarez the Manchester United legend may have a spiritual successor. It's not a comparison many would leap to, especially not fans of the players' respective clubs, but the similarities are compelling...

When Cantona arrived at United, he was a man on a mission - a rescue mission. United were languishing behind Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers as well as surprise challengers Norwich City and Queens Park Rangers in the race for the 1992-93 Premier League title when the French maestro, sold by Leeds United for a paltry £1.2m to rid chairman Bill Fotherby of an outcast deemed unpredictable and lacking commitment, turned up to jolt the Manchester club's season into life. With summer signing Dion Dublin sidelined with a broken leg and Bryan McClair and Mark Hughes desperately out of form, Cantona was relied upon to deliver much-needed goals - and deliver he did. 9 goals later, United were ten points ahead of the pack, romping home to perhaps the most unlikely title in their history.

Suarez enjoyed a similar impact. Not unlike Cantona, he was offloaded mid-season to a side struggling for goals after a string of controversial incidents and handed the number 7 shirt. Both shirts came laden with expectation. At Liverpool, the number was previously donned by Dalglish and Kevin Keegan, while at United previous owners were the mercurial George Best and Bryan Robson. The Uruguayan came off the bench to score on his debut (despite not having had time to train with the team before the match, taking place just days after his transfer) and was highly influential in his remaining 12 appearances, rocketing the Reds up to sixth and into Europe. "The boy's a very special player. A Liverpool legend in the making," said Dalglish as Suarez quickly established himself as one of the most dangerous strikers in the league just as Cantona had done two seasons previous.

In the years that followed both stars' arrivals, they became increasingly depended upon, with critics suggesting both Manchester United and Liverpool had become one man teams. In the 93-94 season, Cantona provided 31% of the team's goals (compared to the last time United won the league in 2011, during which leading scorer Dimitar Berbatov scored 25% of the team's goals) while so far this season Suarez has been involved in 58% of Liverpool's goals. In 2012 the Kop hero created 75 chances from open play to become the Premier League's second most effective attacking player, second only to Manchester City's David Silva, and took more shots on goal than any other player in the English game (163), scoring 19.

Though their playing styles are different, with Suarez's game characterised by nimble runs and scrambled goal  s a world apart from the leisurely, elegant play typical of the Frenchman, the pair are also drawn together by their penchant for controversy. This weekend saw the latest Suarez storm, with the star labelled a cheat for handling the ball to score the decisive goal in a 2-1 FA Cup victory over Mansfield. Since landing in England he's been embroiled in an alleged racism scandal that dominated headlines in 2012, handed a ban for taunting opposition support and accused of diving. Before that he was famously sent off in a tense 2010 World Cup clash between Uruguay and Ghana for clearing the ball from the line with his hands and labelled the Cannibal of Ajax for biting an opponent.

Eric Cantona Signed Manchester United 1996 FA Cup Winners Shirt

Cantona meanwhile was rarely out of the headlines during his tenure at Manchester United. The Frenchman averaged a red card once in every 24 Premier League games. To put that into context, reputed Premier League hardmen Roy Keane and Patrick Viera averaged a sending off once in every 54 and 35 games respectively. Even the game's most notorious hardman Vinnie Jones was sent off less times than Cantona. But it was a cold January evening at Selhurst Park in 1995 that will go down as his most infamous moment. Sent off for a kick on Crystal Palace defender Richard Shaw, the Frenchman launched a kung-fu kick to the chest of an abusive fan as he headed for the dressing room, earning a lengthy ban and 100 hours of community service. His only explanation of his actions at the later press conference? "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much."

But the greatest similarity between the two players is not the controversy they attract but how they each rise above it. When Suarez eventually retires, it won't be the furore that he's remembered for. It'll be the football. The deft touches. The gasps from the crowds as another ball is guided into the back of the net with surgical precision. Just like Cantona.


Follow Icons on Twitter for all the latest football news, chat and competitions: @icons_football

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Merry Christmas from Icons and January Sale Sneak Peek!

by Al 24. December 2012 06:02

It's been a whirlwind 2012 for Icons in which we've conducted signings with old friends Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, met with legends like Eric Cantona and Brazilian Ronaldo and struck up new partnerships with the amazing Pep Guardiola and Neymar. And on top of all that, we've just had our busiest Christmas ever. But what does 2013 have in store?


We're kicking off the new year in style this evening (a little early, we know) with the launch of our January Sale, slashing prices on our stunning range of signed memorabilia from the world's best players by up to 50%. Check back from 6pm GMT tonight (24 December) for:

  • £50 off signed signed Leo Messi Barcelona 2012-13 season shirts and boots
  • Up to £150 off signed Cristiano Ronaldo products
  • 20% off our entire Preframed selection including signed framed items from the likes of Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez and Olympian Jess Ennis.
  • £100 off selected Andres Iniesta signed memorabilia
...and much more!

Thank you and a very merry Christmas to all our customers, commercial partners and friends from all at Icons. Here's to 2013...


Follow Icons on Twitter for all the latest football news, chat and competitions: @icons_football

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Eric Cantona: his five best quotes

by Al 27. November 2012 07:04

Seagulls. Terminators. Bags of shit. Most footballers choose to let their feet do the talking but Eric Cantona is one of few Premiership legends as elegent in speech as they were on the pitch. His brilliant soundbites only added to the enigma that was the genius Frenchman, capturing the imagination of football fans across the nation with his cryptic and often bizarre statements. With this week marking 20 years since his arrival at Manchester United, what better reason to revisit some of his most amazing quotes?

"When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much." (1995)

Given community service and a lengthly spell on the sidelines for United after attacking a supporter with that kung-fu kick, Cantona offered up only one response to questions at a press conference in front of the national media, a quote that seventeen years later lives on in infamy.

"I don't want to be in Terminator. I don't want to be in Hollywood." (2003)

Living for the day Cantona replaces Arnie at the helm of one of the greatest action series of all time? Sorry to disappoint you but the striker explained in 2003 that though he had begun an acting career, he much preferred "making films that I find interesting and intellectually challenging." Sigh.

"The revolution is really easy to do these days. What's the system? The system is built on the power of the banks. So it must be destoryed through the banks. A real revolution." (2010)

Most footballers ease into a life of golfing and the odd bit of punditry when they retire. Not Eric, who in 2010 tried to instigate a collapse of France's financial district, urging the nation to withdraw all their money from their bank accounts.

"After his first training session in heaven, George Best, from the favourite right wing, turned the head of God who was filling in at left back." (2005)

When George Best died in 2005, there were plenty of eulogies given to one of football's most troubled talents, but none as poetic and touching as that of his Manchester United compatriot Cantona.

"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." (2004)

A genuinely touching sentiment this may be. and testament to his special relationship with United fans, but he needn't worry - Cantona is an icon like no other and his famous chant ("ooh, ahh, Cantona!") is sure to be heard on the terraces for decades to come.

Buy your very own signed Eric Cantona Manchester United shirt now


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Inside an Icons signing with Eric Cantona

by Al 13. June 2012 09:15

Last Monday, 4 June, Icons travelled to Paris for a private and exclusive signing session with Manchester United legend Eric Cantona. Icons have a superb long-standing relationship with Eric, and we were delighted to hold our first signing together since February 2009. Read on to find out more...

In the five storming seasons that followed his transfer from Leeds to Sir Alex Ferguson's Man Utd in November 1992 (pictured above), the bewilderingly gifted and notoriously temperamental Frenchman fired the Red Devils to four Premier League titles and two FA Cups. Now, as Director of Soccer at the recently revived New York Cosmos, Cantona splits his time between Paris and New York. It was in the French capital that we arranged to meet.

For the Icons team travelling from London to Paris to conduct the signing, Monday 4 June began with 7am taxis to Kings Cross St Pancras and a packed Eurostar train at 8.20am. Carrying suitcases loaded with shirts, boots and camera equipment, we arrived at Paris' Gare du Nord station and headed straight to the city centre hotel where the signing was to take place.

Eric wasn't arriving until later that afternoon, so after locating a hotel conference room for the signing, we headed out for a leisurely Parisian lunch. Upon our return to the hotel it was all hands to the deck to ensure the signing went as smoothly as possible. The shirts were unpacked and arranged in piles in preparation to be signed, and pens and cameras were carefully tested as our excitement grew at meeting one of football's greatest personalities.

Slightly delayed by Paris' notorious traffic, Cantona arrived just before 4pm. The towering Frenchman was friendly and polite, introducing himself as "Eric" with a round of handshakes. After downing an entire bottle of water in one go, he sat down and began siging Man Utd 1996 FA Cup winners shirts and the infamous 1993-94 away shirts, both pictured below.

Despite the temperamental reputation, Eric was approachable, relaxed and as professional as we expected. While he meticulously added his signature to our replica shirts, conversation - in both English and French - varied from his days in Manchester to his acting career and his thoughts on Euro 2012 and Roland Garros. (Unfortunately we are not permitted to disclose his predictions in our Euro 2012 predictions blog!)

The session lasted almost two hours, and there was even time for Eric to pay for a round of drinks in the hotel bar. Still starstruck from the signing, we set about packing up the newly-signed shirts and boots and made our way back to London. Even a two-hour delay on the Eurostar couldn't dampen our spirits!

Eric is pictured here with Nick, one member of the Icons team.

View the full signed Eric Cantona range HERE and follow Icons on Twitter @icons_football for the latest news on all our signings.

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Eric Cantona to sign for Icons!

by Al 31. May 2012 06:01

Icons HQ is an extremely excited place today, after we received confirmation that our signing with the legendary Eric Cantona will go ahead next week. We will be travelling to Paris for the signing, where Eric will be adding his signature to a superb range of Manchester United shirts and boots, exclusively for Icons.
The King, ladies and gentlemen, is back.

This is a man who needs no introduction, but to put it simply, Eric Cantona was the most exciting player of the Premier League era. Supremely talented, charismatic, unpredictable and temperamental, the Frenchman became an idol at Old Trafford during the 90s. In five blistering seasons in Man Utd’s iconic number 7 shirt, the inspirational Cantona won four Premier League titles and two FA Cups.

Icons have a long-standing relationship with Cantona, but this will be our first signing together since February 2009. We are now delighted to give you the opportunity to pre-order an iconic signed shirt or boot from one of football’s true greats. As well as the 1996 FA Cup winners shirt, Cantona will, for the first time ever, be signing the infamous black away shirt and Nike Tiempo boots. View the full range HERE and order yours now.

Pre-orders will be dispatched from 6 June. Make sure you keep an eye on the blog and follow us on Twitter, where we'll be uploading exclusive photos to give you a behing-the-scenes look at our signing session.


Follow Icons on Twitter @icons_football


Icons.com - Things we love 1

by Dan 28. October 2009 10:00

The incomparable Eric Cantona and one of the Premier League's greatest ever goals. Pure class.

You can own a hand-signed Eric Cantona photo of this goal by clicking here

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Man United's best ever players

by Dan 5. June 2009 12:25

Is Cristiano Ronaldo only the 50th best player ever to play for Manchester United? Not even as good as Andy, sorry, Andrew Cole?

The Times released their list of the 50 best footballers to play for Manchester United this week, and as always with these lists there were some surprising choices.

Sir Bobby Charlton headed the 50 at number one: survivor of the Munich air crash, inspiration at Wembley 68 and chief protagonist behind bringing Alex Ferguson to Old Trafford, it's hard to argue against those credentials.

George Best, one of the most charismatic and skilful players not only of the Sixties but of all time, was second, with Munich victim Duncan Edwards at number three.

The enigmatic Eric Cantona came in at fourth, with captain marvel Bryan Robson at five, while record appearance holder Ryan Giggs was ranked seven.

Icons has a great choice of Man Utd memorabilia available from the players. Number is where they came in the Times ranking.

50 Cristiano Ronaldo memorabilia
42 Jaap Stam memorabilia
35 Teddy Sheringham memorabilia
8 Denis Law memorabilia
7 Ryan Giggs memorabilia
5 Bryan Robson memorabilia
4 Eric Cantona memorabilia
2 George Best memorabilia
1 Bobby Charlton memorabilia

You're never going to believe this... they're going to win the cup

by Dan 20. April 2009 12:22

The 128th FA Cup Final will be contested on May 30 at Wembley between Chelsea and Everton. That was confirmed over the weekend with respective victories over Arsenal and Manchester United.

Frank Lampard was instrumental in the Stamford Bridge side's progress on Saturday, setting up goals for Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba. Meanwhile, with Sir Alex Ferguson putting out a second-string side on Sunday, Everton progressed thanks to a penalty shootout after a dull 0-0 draw.

Sadly there was nothing to match the drama of Man Utd v Arsenal in 1999 when Ryan Giggs scored probably the greatest FA Cup goal of all time, or Gazza's free-kick for Spurs against Arsenal.

Cup finals are always special occasions, and over the years have thrown up a variety of heroes. Ricky Villa scoring the best ever Wembley FA Cup final goal against Manchester City, Charlie George's winning celebration against Liverpool in 1971, Trevor Brooking's diving header against Arsenal in 1980... the list goes on.

Icons has plenty of great FA Cup memorabilia in store, just check out the following:

Ossie Ardiles And Ricky Villa Signed Tottenham Hotspur 1981 FA Cup Final Shirt
Eric Cantona Signed Manchester United 1996 FA Cup Winners Shirt
Bobby Charlton Signed Manchester United 1963 FA Cup Final Shirt
Allan Clarke Signed Leeds United 1972 FA Cup Final Shirt
Steven Gerrard Signed Print - Gerrard's Final
Glenn Hoddle Signed Tottenham 1982 FA Cup Winners Shirt

King Eric completes fourth memorabilia signing for icons

by Dan 3. March 2009 12:12

Last week Icons completed its fourth private signing session with Manchester United legend Eric Cantona.

Icons travelled to Paris to meet with the mercurial Frenchman, where he signed a new range of shirts and photos for us.

Le King put his name to a replica 1996 FA Cup final shirt commemorating the May day when his solitary strike sent arch rivals Liverpool to 1-0 defeat at Wembley.

He also signed two new photographs for our Cantona range. The first shows him, arm aloft, having inspired Manchester United to a vital win over Wimbledon. Newcastle led United by 12 points and this victory began the fightback as they defied the odds to claw back the deficit.

The second is from the same season, and shows Cantona and Roy Keane celebrating Eric's sixth-minute strike against Manchester City in April that year which put United neck and neck with Kevin Keegan's Newcastle. The Geordies crumbled under pressure and Fergie's young side went on to achieve an incredible double.

Fergie had offloaded Mark Hughes, Paul Ince and Andrei Kanchelskis in the summer leading Alan Hansen to remark famously that "You'll never win anything with kids." But a youthful team including Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville Brothers spectacularly proved him wrong.

Check out the icons shop now to buy these superb items of sporting memorabilia.

Mourinho rates Giggs the best ever

by Dan 2. March 2009 12:11

So Jose Mourinho reckons that Ryan Giggs is the greatest ever Premiership player, better than Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer and Eric Cantona.

The Special One should know a thing or two given the number of trophies he won with Chelsea and the way his Inter Milan side are running away with this year's Scuddeto.

But is he right? Here is Icons' top five Premiership players:

5. Steven Gerrard. They say that no player is bigger than the team. Have they not heard of Stevie G?
4. Frank Lampard. Still holds the record for an outfield player of 164 consecutive appearances. A phenomenon.
3. Eric Cantona. Turned Manchester United into the all-conquering force they are today.
2. Alan Shearer. 260 Premiership goals. Will anyone ever beat that?
1. Ryan Giggs. Well no-one ever won an argument with the Special One did they?

We've had our turn. Now it's yours...

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About Icons Memorabilia

Welcome to the icons blog, we'll be regularly posting here about what's going on with our star signings and what new products have arrived

We love what we do so we'll also be talking about what's going on in the world of football and sport in general.

We'd really appreciate your feedback and comments too.

Cheers - The icons.com team.

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