Eric Cantona takes New York Cosmos director job

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Manchester United legend Eric Cantona has been appointed director of soccer at United States club New York Cosmos.

"It's a wonderful project. It's kind of a mix between football and art," said the 44-year-old, who retired in 1997.

The Cosmos, who included Brazil star Pele in the 70s, folded in 1985 but were relaunched in August by former Tottenham vice-chairman Paul Kemsley.

Cantona's new club aim to play "at the highest level", suggesting an intention to become a Major League Soccer side.

The Cosmos, who won five championships in the now-defunct North American Soccer League between 1972 and 1982, have neither a team nor a stadium at the moment.

But the possibility of the famous outfit becoming MLS's 20th side, and rivalling its only current New York-based team, New York Red Bulls, has been welcomed by the division's commissioner Don Garber.

In a statement announcing his appointment, the Cosmos said Cantona will provide "innovative leadership" and "cutting-edge creativity" as they attempt to attract and develop players.

"The Cosmos are very strong, beautifully made, with a great past," added Cantona.

"I will do everything that I can to help us first find our way to regain the number one position in the United States and then for us to become one of the best clubs in the world over the coming years."

Another former Premier League player, Cobi Jones, who played for Coventry between 1994 and 1995, will work alongside Cantona as associate director of soccer.

Cantona announced his shock retirement 14 years ago at the age of 30, after winning five titles in six years with Manchester United and Leeds.

He was voted the Old Trafford outfit's greatest player in a poll of fans in 2000 and was briefly involved in coaching the club's young players in 2001.

Since leaving professional football he has concentrated on his acting career, appearing in Elizabeth alongside Cate Blanchett in 1998 before being directed by Ken Loach in the 2009 film Looking for Eric.

Known for his outspoken political views, Cantona recently called on the public to withdraw cash from banks in protest at their part in the global financial crisis.

The appeal attracted plenty of headlines but failed to spark a run on financial institutions.

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