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FIFA 21 Icons guide: Cantona, Xavi, Torres, Puskas and more

(Image credit: EA)

The FIFA 21 Icons list kicks off with one of the most divisive figures in footballing history: Eric Cantona. The Manchester United legend is guaranteed to be highly sought after in FIFA 21, but he’s not the only new addition to the list of famous faces. Another Old Trafford favourite, Nemanja Vidic, joins the centre-back ranks, while there are series returns for Ashley Cole and Fernando Torres. Below we profile the first 10 Icons revealed this year, and in late September we’ll publish the complete FIFA 21 Icons list. 

Eric Cantona (CF, France)

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One of the most famous French footballers ever won just 45 caps for his country – his mercurial personality considered too much of a risk by a succession of managers. Ultimate Team bosses won’t have to worry about such concerns, and can instead focus on high attributes for awareness, shooting and composure. Everyone remembers Cantona’s four league titles with Manchester United, but it was steering Leeds to the same honour in 1991-92 which set him on the path to becoming Le King of Old Trafford.

Bastian Schweinsteiger (CM, Germany)

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The ballet-toed, big-named German is one of only two players on this list to feature in FIFA 20. Schweinsteiger was still with MLS club Chicago Fire when the game was released, and so his common gold card can be found on the transfer market – for a wallet-busting 38,000 coins. That item positions him at CB, but he’ll be back in midfield for FIFA 21, where he won the 2014 World Cup with Germany, and eight Bundesliga titles while at Bayern Munich. 

Samuel Eto’o (ST, Cameroon)

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FIFA 18 was the last time we saw Cameroon’s talismanic frontman, as he brought the curtain down on a 22-year career at Turkish club Konyaspor. Actually, he played for one team after that – bagging six goals for Qatar SC – but they aren’t in FIFA. Eto’o’s icon cards will represent spectacular spells with Barcelona (108 goals in 144 appearances) and Inter Milan (33 in 67), though it’s easy to forget that he also had brief stints with Premier League teams Chelsea and Everton.

Ashley Cole (LB, England)

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Last seen in FIFA 19, the long-time England left-back went out with a whimper on the virtual turf – his final card was a silver-rated 71, with a pace rating of 64. He’ll be back to his best in FIFA 21, with cards based on his days rampaging up the flank for Arsenal and Chelsea. Expect them all to be rated at least 90 for pace. Cole earned 107 caps for his country, and is now back at Stamford Bridge as Frank Lampard’s academy coach.

Petr Cech (GK, Czech Republic)

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Cech’s return doubles the number of legendary goalkeepers sporting unique headgear in FIFA 21 – Russian super keeper Lev Yashin is accurately represented with his thoroughly old-school flat cap. Cech wore a scrum cap for the rest of his career after a collision with Reading’s Steven Hunt, but it had no adverse effect on his ability. The stopper picked up four Premier League titles with Chelsea, where like Cole he’s now part of the management team.

Philipp Lahm (RB, Germany)

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Right-back, left-back, central midfielder? Lahm was successfully deployed in all three roles across his exceptional career, and you’d hope we’ll get one FIFA 21 icons card in each position. Incredibly, Lahm is still only 36 and younger than two active outfield players in the Premier League: Phil Jagielka (Sheffield United) and Glenn Murray (Brighton). He won eight Bundesliga titles with Bayern, and was another member of Germany’s 2014 World Cup winning squad. 

Xavi (CM, Spain)

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The first of two Spanish new additions had a bonkers career between 1997 and 2016. He won the World Cup in 2010, the European Championships in 2008 and 2012, was named in UEFA’s Team Of The Year five times, and won four Champions Leagues and eight La Liga championships with Barcelona. These days the Terrassa-born legend plies his trade as manager of Qatar Stars League club Al Sadd.

Fernando Torres (ST, Spain)

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Beloved on the red half of Merseyside alongside the red-and-white half of Madrid (less so at Chelsea), Torres retired in 2019 with 200 goals in 578 senior club appearances to his name – adding 38 for the Spanish national side. His key team honours came while at Stamford Bridge: one FA Cup win, plus victories in the Champions League (2011-12) and Europa League (2012-13). Like Xavi, he was an integral part of the team that won Euros 2008 and 2012, and the 2010 World Cup.

Ferenc Puskas (ST, Hungary)

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At school in the ‘80s four names were widely circulated as the greatest footballers of all time: Maradona, Pele, Cruyff, and Puskas. (Which in retrospect was a bit harsh on Eusebio.) As of FIFA 21 all of those names will be playable in virtual form, as the Hungarian master expands your super-expensive attacking options. Puskas scored 514 goals in 530 games with Budapest Honved and Real Madrid, and was just as great for his country, notching 84 goals in 85 games. Anyone know the Hungarian for ‘staggering’?

Nemanja Vidic (CB, Serbia)

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Three league cups, five Premier League wins, victory in the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League and 2008 FIFA Club World Cup: Vidic’s robust, unflappable defending made him a Manchester United legend, and confirms him as one of the modern era’s greatest centre-backs. So successful were his Old Trafford days, it’s easy to forget they were bookended with spells at Spartak Moscow and Inter Milan. Quite rightly, it’s the United years that’ll inspire his FIFA 21 Icon cards.

FIFA 21 is released on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC on 9 October, and PS5 and Xbox Series X to tie in with the Christmas release of those consoles. 

I'm GamesRadar+'s sports editor, obsessed with NFL, WWE, MLB – and very occasionally things that don't have a three-letter acronym. Namely: Bill Bryson, Pitch Perfect, and the Streets Of Rage series. I have two kids who aren't quite old enough to play Madden yet. Soon, though…