Man United star Eric Cantona would've delayed retirement for France 1998 WC

Former Manchester United star Eric Cantona says he would have postponed his retirement from football if he was part of the France squad ahead of the 1998 World Cup.

Cantona, 49, played his last game shortly before his 31st birthday, retiring at the end of the 1996-97 season after he had won his fifth league title in six years in England.

Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson wrote in his new book, "Leading," that Cantona was one of four world-class players he worked with while at Old Trafford and also published a letter he had written to his recently retired forward in 1997.

While his club career ended on his own terms, the former Marseille and Leeds United attacker's time with his national team finished with less fanfare.

Having been captain of France under Aime Jacquet, Cantona lost his place in the side following his infamous attack on a fan during a game against Crystal Palace in January 1995.

Despite returning from suspension in style for Manchester United -- winning a league and cup double and being named Football Writers' Player of the Year in the 1995-96 season -- he was never recalled by Jacquet.

Cantona missed out on Euro 96 in England, and the chance to play in a World Cup on home soil also eluded him when Les Bleus won the tournament for the first time two years later.

Speaking to French radio station France Info to promote his new film "Les rois du monde (Kings of the World)", Cantona was asked if would have retired had he still been part of Aime Jacquet's squad.

"No," he replied. "No, I don't think so."

There were suggestions that Cantona had fallen out with Jacquet because he told the France manager that he was not interested in being a substitute, but the footballer-turned-actor said such an idea was "absolutely false."

The star of "Looking for Eric" also said that he never thought about making a comeback once he had stopped playing.

"I lost my love for football, that's all," he said. "I said in interviews when I was 20 that I would quit the day that I was no longer passionate about it.

"When I lost my passion for the game, I stopped. I stopped and I moved on to other things. I know that football is something very strong. It's a drug.

"So I decided not to watch any more games -- a bit like a drug addict who absolutely has to get away from his dealer.

"So I kicked the habit and I had other passions. I started working in cinema. I started making films and I've done films regularly since then."

Meanwhile, Cantona also confirmed this week that he was willing to provide accommodation to help refugees coming to Europe.