Manchester United legend Eric Cantona enters running to become next President of France

The former striker is in the hunt for 500 signatures from elected offcials by the end of next month ahead of a first round of competing to succeed Nicolas Sarkozy

Manchester United legend Eric Cantona has entered the race to become the next French President.

The former striker requires the backing of 500 elected officials by the end of February to fully enter the run to succeed Nicolas Sarkozy and has circulated a letter to French mayors in order to gain their support, referring to himself as an “engaged citizen”.

Printed in the Liberation newspaper, Cantona’s letter reads: "This engagement obliges me to speak, more earnestly than usual, but also with a keen sense of my responsibility, at a time when our country faces difficult choices which will be decisive for its future.”

He also condemned the limited opportunities for the nation's young people and social injustices which he described as "too numerous, too violent, too systematic”.

Election candidates are set to compete in a first round in April, but the 45-year-old has a hard task ahead of him without the backing of a party. Even if he attains his 500 signatures, an individual candidate would be hard pressed to reach the second round.

This is not the first time the Frenchman has entered into the foray of social politics, after his attempt to get France’s savers to withdraw all their money from the nation’s banks because of their role in the recent financial crisis.

Despite his calls receiving much publicity, the move flopped with almost no one taking any such action.