In November 1992, Leeds United were reigning League champions, having pipped Manchester United to the title in the final season of the old First Division, when the Yorkshire club made an inquiry about signing Denis Irwin. Alex Ferguson said Irwin wasn't for sale then jokingly asked about Cantona's availability. To Fergie's astonishment, Leeds agreed to sell the French striker who had been a key figure in their title winning side only five months previously.
Cantona moved across the Pennines for £1.2m, quickly became United's talisman and that season they won the title for the first time in 26 years. The Frenchman stayed at Old Trafford until 1997, making them the dominant force in English football, winning four league titles and earning the adoration of the fans who voted him the greatest player in their club's history.
Exactly a quarter-of-a-century on from Cantona's dramatic move, here are five other game-changing transfers...
Roy Keane - Nottingham Forest to Manchester United for £3.75m, 1993
Keane succeeded Cantona as United captain but his record transfer almost didn't happen. Blackburn Rovers had reached a verbal agreement to sign Keane from Nottingham Forest for £4m. However, at the end of a working week the deal hadn't been officially done. With Keane due to sign a contract at Ewood Park on the Monday morning, Ferguson phoned the Irishman, met him on Saturday and persuaded him that his future lay at Old Trafford. In the coming years, Ferguson would jettison big-name midfielders Bryan Robson and Paul Ince and build his team around Keane for a glorious decade, including the treble-winning side of 1999.
Patrick Viera - AC Milan to Arsenal for £3.5m, 1996
Patrick Viera was a gangly unknown 20-year-old, who'd made two first team appearances for AC Milan, when he arrived in north London in summer 1996. In nine years there, he worked brilliantly with his compatriot manager Arsene Wenger, as probably the most important player in the Gunners' French revolution, and formed one of the great Premier League midfield partnerships with Emmanuel Petit in the double-winning side of 1998. The same year, he won the World Cup with France and went on to be the lynch-pin of Arsenal's "invincibles" of 2004.
Frank Lampard, West Ham to Chelsea for £11m, 2001
At West Ham, Frank Lampard was known as "Junior" but, at Chelsea, he stepped out of his famous father's shadow and made his own legend. Arguably, the most significant transfer for the Abramovich era happened before the Russian arrived at Stamford Bridge, in 2001, when Lampard, who along with John Terry would form the English spine of Jose Mourinho's two title winning teams, arrived in West London. Big money signings would come and go but Lampard stayed until 2014, playing under nine different managers, winning the Champions League and becoming the club's all-time leading goalscorer.
Sergio Aguero, Atletico Madrid to Manchester City for £40m, 2011
Since the Abu Dhabi group bought Manchester City in 2008, the club have had mixed fortunes with strikers. Robinho, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli all had their moments but none achieved the consistency that City needed if they were to become the major force in English football. That changed in 2011 when Sergio Aguero arrived from Atletico Madrid. On the final day of his first season, he scored the goal that won City their first Premier league title. There's only been one more title since then, although City are 1.171/6 favourites to win a third this season, but Aguero's performances over the past six years make him possibly the greatest player in City's history.
Riyad Mahrez, Le Havre to Leicester City for £320,000, 2014
In 2013, Leicester scouts went to Le Havre to watch one of Riyad Mahrez's team-mates but came home raving about the skilful Algerian winger. He helped the club win the Championship in 2014 and stay up in the Premier League the following season. But nobody saw Mahrez's heroics coming in 2015/16, when he was the brightest star in the team of stars that stunned the world by winning the Premier League. Mahrez scored 19 League goals in that incredible campaign, was voted PFA Player of the Year and nominated for the Ballon d'Or. In a single season, he came from nowhere to cement his status as one of the hottest properties in world football and to remind us all that anything is possible.