Where are they now? Ex-Manchester Utd ‘keeper burning rubber
Manchester United will be hoping for solidity at the back when they take on their city rivals on Sunday as they look to continue to mount a title challenge.
David de Gea may be a more than capable man between the sticks, but even the Spaniard cannot boast two Premier League titles with the Red Devils.
Between 2000 and 2004 Fabien Barthez chalked up over 130 appearances for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men as he kept goal for championship winning campaigns in 2001 and 2003.
He was signed on the back of impressive performances for France in both the World Cup in 1998 and Euro 2000 for £7m from Monaco.
The arrival of Tim Howard in 2003 however brought about an end to the Frenchman’s career at Old Trafford, before he was shipped out to Marseille, before Nantes became the fifth and final club of his spell with the gloves.
Since retiring though, rather than head down the coaching or management route, Barthez has turned his attention to a different sport, one on four wheels.
The Toulouse native once told the Daily Mail how motorsport had always been on his mind, even during his spell as a ‘keeper.
“I have always been fascinated by motorsport, even when I was playing football. It always intrigued me,” he said.
And in 2008 he got a chance to turn his hand to racing when taking part in the Porsche Carrera Cup.
His career behind the wheel didn’t have the best start though as he slid into the gravel in his very first race at Val de Vienne…
However, from that moment on it was onwards and upwards for the World Cup-winning stopper.
He has competed in a number of different series from the Caterham Sigma Cup and the FFSA GT Championship, securing his first win in the latter in 2012.
His biggest moment in his second sporting foray though came in 2013, when along with Morgan Moulin-Traffort he bagged the French GT Championship.
In his Ferrari 458 Barthez guided the team to victory in two races and picked up a further four podium finishes to secure the title in a most consistent manner.
Sights then were aimed at the most famous endurance race of the lot, Le Mans.
Barthez had previously spoken of how “Le Mans is something else altogether” and in 2014, his wish to compete the race was granted when he formed Team Sofrev ASP.
Taking in the famous race with professional drivers Anthony Pons and Soheil Ayari the team managed to finish ninth in the amateur class of the race, with a final position of 29th in the overall standings, five spots below the team of American TV star Patrick Dempsey.
But while his focus is very much on revving engines rather than organising defenders, football remained part of Barthez’s life back where it all began.
In 2012 he became a director at Luzenac AP, a team who play in the Pyrenees region of France, a short hop from the town of Lavelanet where he was born.
The rise which the club enjoyed was monumental, arguably too quick for their own good.
In a town of just 650 people, the team rocketed up the Championnat National, to finish second in 2012-13.
However, with their ground, Stade Paul Fedou, holding just 1,200 people, they were denied entry to Ligue 2, where they would have become the smallest club ever to compete in the division.
A battle then ensued to find a league for the club to compete in, but they were dealt a huge blow, when those in charge of the division they had just won promotion from refusing to welcome them back in.
Luzenac were left with no choice, they were ‘voluntarily’ relegated way back down to the seventh tier of French football to play in the regional leagues, losing many of their players at the same time.
In September 2014 Barthez left the club an angry man at the way the authorities had treated the club:
“They talk about respect, solidarity…why for us is this not a thought? he said.
“We have not even been entitled to that. I suspected it would be hard, but I did not think it would go that far.”
Following his disappointment in the football boardroom it looks as though a return to the track is all that is on Barthez’s mind.
This autumn he announced that he was launching his own racing team with former Formula One driver Olivier Panis.
The imaginatively-named Panis-Barthez Competition will compete in the LMP2 series of the European Le Mans competition.
The former stopper will be the one in the driving seat, rather than the 157 F1 GP veteran, and with plenty of experience for an amateur driver, the duo are sure to warrant plenty of respect on the grid.
You can read all previous editions of our Where Are They Now? series here.
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