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Manchester United’s Former Keeper Fabien Barthez Is Living An Unbelievably Different Life

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Manchester United’s Former Keeper Fabien Barthez Is Living An Unbelievably Different Life

Eccentric former Manchester United goalkeeper Fabien Barthez is now living a completely different life away from football.

The bald shot-stopper, who won the World Cup with France in 1998 but became known for his somewhat erratic displays, signed for Sir Alex Ferguson's side in 2000. His job was to finally replace Peter Schmeichel, who'd left the club having won the treble in 1999.

However Barthez's job since retiring has been a world away from football: he's been a professional racing driver, a team owner and is currently preparing to race in the world-famous Le Mans 24-hour race for the fourth time.

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The two-time Premier League winner took up motorsport professionally in 2008 when he competed in the Porsche Carrera Cup France. His career high point came in 2013 when he became French GT Champion.

Barthez also set up a racing team with French ex-Formula 1 ace Olivier Panis, who won the Monaco Grand Prix in 1996.

Manchester United fans who remember Barthez's somewhat unreliable handling between the posts may be somewhat alarmed to discover that he is now testing his reactions in high-performance racing cars. But the 49-year-old insists it's always been a passion for him.

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"I have always been fascinated by motorsport, even when I was playing football. It always intrigued me," said Barthez per SunSport.

"I wanted to understand what it felt like being in a car. I had to wait until the end of my pro career to try it.

"That said, it's not like football: you can still be good even when you are 35, which was my age when I stopped playing."

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Barthez's football career was certainly a successful one. He won the Champions League with Marseille in 1993, Ligue 1 with Monaco and played 139 times over three seasons for Manchester United.

However the keeper was prone to rash moments, racing out from goal, and Ferguson once joked that he might be a better outfield player than he was a keeper.

He was a first-team regular in the French side that won the 1998 World Cup on home soil but was behind an absolute brick wall of a defence that featured Lilian Thuram, Bixente Lizarazu, Marcel Desailly and Laurent Blanc (who would kiss the top of Barthez's bald dome as part of a pre-match ritual).

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Barthez was reportedly highly superstitious, a smoker and - apparently - superb behind the wheel.

Ex-F1 driver Panis said of Barthez to Omnisport: "I have learnt a lot and I am really glad to work with Fabien.

"He is a fantastic driver and it is amazing to see what he has achieved."

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All imagery: PA Images

Topics: Motorsport, Football, Manchester United, Premier League

Alex Reid
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