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Trouble for Cantona

Eric Cantona

London: Eric Cantona has been arrested and cautioned for assaulting a man in London on Wednesday.

The former Manchester United star was taken into custody by police following a lunchtime altercation in the city’s Primrose Hill area.

It was not known on Thursday whether his victim, who did not require medical assistance, planned to press charges.

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: “Police were called to Regents Park Road, NW1, at 12.55pm on Wednesday 12th March, following reports of an assault.

“Officers from Camden Borough attended and a man in his mid-40s was arrested on suspicion of common assault. He was taken into custody and subsequently cautioned for common assault. The victim, a man, did not require medical assistance at the scene.”

Cantona, 47, was convicted of assaulting Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons in January 1995 and was initially sentenced to two weeks in prison, before that was reduced to 120 hours community service.

He was also banned for eight months and fined 10,000 by the Football Association, which extended a four-month suspension and 20,000 fine imposed by United.

Cantona, who became an actor after retiring from football, famously reacted to his successful appeal against a jail term with a quote that came to define him: “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.”

In 2011, Cantona told the BBC that while the assault, known as the kung fu kick, had been a mistake, he looked back on it with a certain fondness.

“When I did the kung fu kick on the hooligan, because these kind of people don’t have to be at the game... It’s like a dream for some, you know, sometimes to kick these kind of people,” he said.

“So, I did it for [the fans]. So they are happy. It’s a kind of freedom for them.”