Former Manchester United striker Eric Cantona has revealed his plans to run in this year's French presidential elections and is attempting to gather sufficient support to do so.

The ex-Manchester United legend needs the signatures of 500 elected officials before the end of February if his presidential bid is to be successful, the French paper Liberation reported.

Liberation printed out the letter which Cantona, 45, sent out the French mayors asking for their supporting and outlining his credentials, describing himself as an "an attentive citizen of our era."

"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," said the letter.

Cantona took the opportunity to express his views on the apparent lack of opportunity for young people in France and the social injustices, which he describes as "too numerous, too violent, too systematic."

He has also shown concern to the country's housing and poverty issues, which he chose to discuss as: it seems to me to be essential and concerns tens of millions of people."

Election candidates will compete in a first round at the end of April, with the two biggest-vote winners going through to a crucial second round in early May.

Even if Cantona was successful in gaining the 500 signatures, a hugely difficult task without the backing of a party, he would have virtually no chance of reaching the second round of voting as an individual outsider.

In 2010, Cantona, who is currently the director of football for New York Cosmos, tried to organise a run on French banks by getting account holders to withdraw all their money in protest at the escalating financial crisis. The plan flopped as virtually no one adhered to the much-hyped call and was subsequently panned by French media.

Cantona retired from professional football in 1997 and has since turned to acting, most notably in Ken Loach's "Looking For Eric," as well as his previously taking ion the role of captain of the French national beach football team.

Last week, musician Youssou N'Dour revealed launched his bid to become the next president of Senegal.