Eric Cantona returning to Manchester as synchronised swimming instructor in new film The Mermaid Man

The former Manchester United striker will star in a new comedy set in Thatcher-era England

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King Eric will return to his kingdom: footballer-turned-actor Eric Cantona is set return to Manchester this summer in new comedy The Mermaid Man.

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According to reports in France, Cantona will star in the comedy as an unemployed man in Thatcher-era Manchester, who decides to set up a synchronised swimming team following the death of his wife.

The charismatic Manchester United striker retired from football in 1997, and has since built a second career in film and TV both in France and abroad. He appeared alongside Cate Blanchett in tudor drama Elizabeth, and played a version of himself in Ken Loach comedy drama Looking for Eric.

French filmmaker Stéphane Giusti will direct, with filming expected to begin in the city this July.

48-year-old Cantona is also preparing to appear on the stage later this year, performing in his wife’s new play Victor in September. 

He is not the only French footballer to make a name for himself in film: ex-Chelsea defender Frank LeBoeuf recently appeared in Oscar-winning film The Theory of Everything, and told RadioTimes.com last year that acting rather than football was his first love.

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“Even before I thought about football, I wanted to be an actor,” he said, adding that footballers make natural actors: “We know the cameras, we’re not afraid of showing off. We also have to be careful what we say in front of the camera; sometimes we don’t want to tell the truth because the journalist wants to make us admit something we don’t want to. You have to be an actor when you’re a footballer.”