Sunday, February 6, 2011

Where are they now?: Fabien Barthez

This post category is inspired by those E! True Hollywood Story type of shows where they show child stars post-Hollywood fame.  This is my version of Where Are They Now? where I will try to track down legendary players of yesteryears and find out where and what they are doing now.  I’m not the greatest researcher so there may be info that I may miss out or make mistakes on, so I’m open to all helpful suggestions and comments J

The first footballer I’ll feature in this category is Fabien Barthez.  Why him?  Well, the Waka-waka video from my previous Shakira-Piqué post, made me wonder where Barthez is now.  Is he still playing in Europe?  Or did he follow what most great European football players do before hanging up their studs—play for the MLS.

So, who is Fabian Barthez?

the formidable protector of the post
He is one of football’s famous (or is it infamous?) bald-headed goalkeepers.  This retired French goalkeeper’s career can be described as part brilliant and part cringe-worthy.  Some love him, some hate him.  When he’s good, he’s spectacular.  But when his bad, it’s awful.  Fans who love this endearing goalie know all about his incredible reaction and crucial saves due to his remarkable sense of anticipation.  His critics, however, would say that this accident-prone keeper’s clumsy and sometimes comic ineptitude has cost a lot of significant conceded goals. 

Here what I dug up all about the magnetic Fabien Barthez:

Full Name: Fabien Alain Barthez
Birthday: June 28, 1971 (making him 39 years old today)
Position: Goalkeeper
Height: 6’
National Team: France
Club Career:
  • Toulouse FC – 1991 to 1992
  • Olympique Marseille – 1992 to 1995
  • AS Monaco FC – 1995 to 2000
  • Manchester United – 2000 to 2004 (he signed with the club for £7.8 million, a British record for a keeper at that time)
  • Olympique Marseille – 2004 to 2006
  • FC Nantes Atlantique – 2007 (for only four months)
 Titles Won:
France lifted the World Cup trophy in 1998
  • Ligue 1 titles in 1997 and 2000 (Monaco)
  • Champions League 1993 (Marseille)
  • FIFA World Cup 1998 (France)
  • Euro 2000 (France)

Noteworthy FIFA World Cup Appearances: 
  • 1998 FIFA World Cup – Champion (vs Brazil)
During the finals match, Barthez made a stunning save on Brazilian superstar Ronaldo which resulted in Ronaldo’s injury.  This save was also flashed in the Waka-waka video, around the 00:55 mark.

Barthez torpedoes into Ronaldo (on different note, wow. Look at those thigh muscles!)

  • 2006 FIFA World Cup – Runners Up (vs Italy)
The finals is the notorious (and maybe even legendary) match where the Zidane head-butt happened.  After extra time still resulting to a draw, the match ended in a penalty shoot out.  Both goalies failed to make a single save but France ultimately lost when its striker, David Trezeguet missed his chance, the only penalty taker who did so.  Barthez’ final missed save of Fabio Grosso’s shot that sealed Italy’s victory is shown in the opening scene of Shakira’s Waka-waka music video, the official track of the 2010 World Cup. (I actually saw the live telecast of this game, it was nerve-racking to watch!)

Interesting Trivia: 
  • Before Iker Casillas became the Youngest Goalkeeper to Win a Champions League Title—there was Barthez.  This was when his team won against Milan in the 1993 Champions League Finals.  His performance in this game was one of the best ever seen for a goalkeeper.
  • He is known for his eccentric antics and playing mind games to opposition players taking a penalty.  Two instances are when during a penalty, instead of taking the “goalkeeping position” (don’t really know the technical term for that), he stood aside from the goal, with his hands behind him on the post refusing to defend the goal. 

  • Barthez became the France number one keeper in February 1997 replacing Bernard Lama when he was tested positive for cannabis and Barthez held on to this spot for almost a decade (with a 6-month lapse when he was suspended)  

  • He is a FIFA World Cup record-holder of Most Clean Sheets with 10 (number matches without conceding a goal), sharing this title with Peter Shilton

  • He had a head-kissing ritual with national team-mate and good friend, Laurent Blanc which they performed at the start of Champions League matches as well as during the 1998 World Cup for good luck

  •  kissing the bald head for good ju-ju

    • During his career, Barthez had two long spells out of the game: a four-month ban for the use of recreational drugs in 1996 and a six-month suspension for spitting at a referee during a brawl that caused when a player was sent off.

    WAG Info:
    • Wife: Aurelie Barthez (June 16, 2004 to present) whom he as two sons with, Lenny Barthez (born June 22, 2003) and Aldo Barthez (born December 21, 2007)
    • He dated Canadian supermodel Linda Evangelista from 1998 to 2000.  She suffered a miscarriage after 6 months of pregnancy with his baby

     Barthez with then GF, Linda Evangelista

    1st Retirement: It was on the latter part of 2006 when after losing the World Cup title to Italy, he was still without a club since he left Marseille at the end of last season.  He wanted to return to his first club, Toulouse, so he can be close enough to take care of his sick mother.  But the club did not want to take him.  He stilled hoped to play professionally for another two years but stated that if he couldn’t find another club by end of August 2006, he would not carry on with football.  By October, it was confirmed that he had retired.

    2nd Retirement: He came out of retirement in January 2007 when he was brought in to bolster FC Nantes Atlantique’s fight against relegation.  Because of Barthez’s trademark blunders, five of the club’s fans kicked his car as he left the Beaujoire stadium after a game.  One fan then tried to open his car door and Barthez got out of his car and the pair was involved in an altercation.  They had to be broken up by security staff.  No longer feeling safe, Barthez had left the city with his family and confirmed that he had quit the team.  He was still looking for another club to play for and was linked with numerous clubs but nothing has ever materialized and since then has never played professional football again.

    He left football not without a fight, literally.  A few say it was a fitting way for the flamboyant player to go out— center of attention, amidst controversy and certainly not without a whimper.  Some critics say he went out a laughing stock, fans believed he was denied of the chance to recapture the best part of his legacy.

    So where is he now?


    When Barthez retired from professional football in the summer of 2007, he has said on more than one occasion, that he would want to return to the footballing world as a coach.


    On January 25, 2008, after and interview with Setanta Sports, Barthez had said he planned to race Porscge GT 3s and play beach football in the future.

    On April 2008, Barthez resurfaced with plans on start a goalkeeping academy with former goalkeeper and Toulouse manager Elie Baup.  Up to this day, nothing has come out of that plan.

    He has made the news lately, when fellow Frenchman and former United star Eric Cantona became the director of soccer at the New York Cosmos just this year.  Barthez has stated that likes the idea of joining Cantona in the US.  He has hinted that he is interested in getting involved with the New York Cosmos as a goalkeeper coach.

     Eric Cantona, new Soccer Director for the New York Cosmos

    Will be seeing the charismatic, bald-headed goalkeeper in the MLS anytime soon? 

    1 comment:

    1. great article... very informative...