On 16 December 1991, Nîmes striker Eric Cantona officially quit football, buying out his contract with the club. He didn't stay gone for long, though.
The 25-year old Cantona, who had shined for Auxerre, Marseille, Bordeaux, and Montpellier before joining Nîmes at the start of the season, had overshadowed his footballing ability with a reputation for volatility, including multiple suspensions, fines, and bust-ups with teammates.
In a match played in early December 1991, he got into trouble for throwing the ball at the referee. The French Football Federation suspended him for a month, then doubled the ban after Cantona insulted the members of the disciplinary committee. On 12 December, his growing frustration with French authorities led him to announce that he was retiring from football with immediate effect. Four days later, out of a desire to be fair to Nîmes, he reached an agreement to cancel his contract, assuming an obligation to pay the club £900,000.
Soon after, however, his friend Michel Platini convinced him to return to football with a clean slate by moving to England. In Janjuary 1992, after an initial brief trial with Sheffield Wednesday, Cantona signed with Leeds United, who paid the money due to Nîmes. He spent only a few months there, however, before moving to Manchester United in November 1992, where he remained until his second retirement in 1997. There, he became one of the club's biggest stars, though he continued to get into trouble, including a 1995 suspension for kicking a Crystal Palace supporter.