Former Manchester United and France legend Eric Cantona is to receive the UEFA President’s Award at the Champions League draw in Monaco on Thursday.
The 53-year-old, who won five English championships with Leeds and Manchester United in the 1990s and two French titles with Marseille, joins an illustrious list of previous recipients which includes Johann Cruyff, Alfredo Di Stefano and Eusebio.
Cantona is the third Manchester United player to receive the award after Bobby Charlton in 2008 and David Beckham last year.
“This award not only recognises his career as a player of the highest calibre but also honours him for the person he is — a man who refuses compromise, who stands up for his values, who speaks his mind and in particular puts his heart and his soul into supporting the causes he believes in,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.
Cantona played 45 times for France but retired before the 1998 World Cup triumph.
His career, which ran from 1983 when he first played for Auxerre to 1997, often courted controversy.
In 1988 Cantona was temporarily suspended from the French national team for calling team manager Henri Michel a “bag of shit”.
In 1995 he was banned from football for eight months and stripped of the France captaincy after attacking a Crystal Palace supporter who was jeering Cantona after the Frenchman was sent off.
Since retiring Cantona has turned to acting, best known for his role in Ken Loach’s quirky 2009 comedy-drama Looking for Eric which was nominated for a Palme d’Or.