Eric Cantona is set to return to Manchester to star in a new comedy Film with a rather unusual plot, even for a Frenchman known for his often slightly offbeat comments and eccentric behaviour. The former Manchester United idol will visit his old city to film scenes for "The Mermaid Man", an offbeat tale concerning a widower who forms a synchronised swimming team. The story is said to revolve around the Eighties and how unemployed men of that time found ways to escape and ease their problems.

Cantona is becoming a familiar face in the film industry since his footballing days came to an end, with his latest venture being the 30th film that has either starred or been directed by the 48-year-old former United number seven, who was nicknamed "King Eric" while at Old Trafford.

His new film sees Cantona in the role of a swimming coach called Franck, who takes a group of depressed unemployed men who are suffering from poverty, much in the style of the highly popular Robert Carlyle-led film "The Full Monty". The backdrop of the Thatcher years will also be a familiar one to many viewers no doubt, as will the sub plot of the synchronised swimming team attempting to win a competition against the odds, to honour the memory of Franck's late wife, who was a swimming champion.

During an illustrious playing career, including spells at French side Marseille, Leeds United and of course Manchester United, his flair and footballing ability was evident for all to see and enjoy.

His time at the Manchester club was particularly rewarding, coinciding with one of the most successful periods in their history, as he featured prominently in four victorious Premier League campaigns and two league and FA Cup double winning sides. He retired from the game in 1997, but not before he had been involved in some bizarre moments, none more so than the infamous "kung-fu" kick in 1995, where he leapt into the crowd at Crystal Palace and was charged with assaulting an opposition fan.

In the aftermath, he also provided the rather obscure comment concerning "when seagulls follow a trawler", that was both cryptic and confusing in equal measure, but perhaps indicative of his future acting career to come.

For those wondering in which direction his talents would see him gravitate towards after football, he chose another unusual direction by opting to move into acting.

It was not long before he starred in the 1998 hit "Elizabeth", alongside the award-winning film star Cate Blanchett and he has continued his interest in the film industry and the arts ever since, including a role in the 2009 film "Looking For Eric". The year after he took to the stage to star in "Face au Paradis", a play directed by his wife Rachida Brakni.

Cantona will also feature in a new western called "The Salvation" that is to be released on April 17th, featuring Eva Green among others, the female star of the James Bond film "Casino Royale".