You don’t have to be mad to be a goalkeeper, but it helps.
Fabian Barthez, the retired French ‘keeper, was mad as a box of frogs. A proper maverick.
But he was also a very talented goalie, hence why he played for the likes of Marseille, Monaco and Manchester United and represented Les Bleus 87 times.
But like most goalkeepers, Barthez was secretly a frustrated striker.
He loved coming off his line and, whenever the opportunity arose, dribbling the ball around opposing strikers.
Barthez made some high-profile blunders at United
United fans remember Barthez more for this catastrophic blunders more than his brilliant saves.
Back in 2001, he infamously gifted Thierry Henry two goals as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side slumped to a 3-1 defeat at Highbury.
When Barthez played out on pitch in 2001
But months earlier, in pre-season, Barthez was handed the opportunity he’d been waiting his entire career for: the chance to play out on pitch.
United were 7-1 up against a Singapore XI when Ferguson replaced new signing Ruud van Nistelrooy with Barthez.
The Frenchman initially donned David Beckham’s number seven shirt, before being told by the match officials that he needed to wear another jersey.
He subsequently stuck on the No. 14 and, to the delight of the 44,000-strong crowd, took his place on the left wing.
Video: Barthez plays out on pitch for Man Utd
Barthez had a few touches of the ball, as you can see from the following fan footage (which, by the way, must surely be some of the earliest fan footage ever recorded)…
And he was on the pitch when Ryan Giggs made it 8-1 to United moments later, although it was Quinton Fortune who provided the assist.
Video: Singapore 1-8 Man Utd highlights
You can watch the match highlights here, and skip to the end of the video to see what happened when Barthez was on the pitch…
Barthez also loved a cigarette - and Fergie knew
To further enhance his maverick status, Barthez also loved a cigarette. Incredibly, Ferguson knew this before he arrived at Old Trafford but signed him anyway.
“I know Fabien smokes. I was even aware of that before he joined us. He must think I don't know about it, but he is mistaken,” Fergie was quoted as saying by the Guardian. “He is the third United player to be hooked on cigarettes since I have been at the club. Before him, there were Jesper Olsen and goalkeeper Les Sealey.
“In England, it's a rare thing to see a player smoking but, all in all, I prefer that to an alcoholic. The relationship with alcohol is a real problem in English football and, in the short term, it's much more harmful to a sportsman. It weakens the body, which becomes more susceptible to injury. That's why I've been so keen on prevention classes for our youngsters.”
Barthez confessed he never listened to Fergie
Barthez also admitted back in 2001 that he never listened to what Ferguson said during his pre-match team talks.
“I can't do anything about it,” he confessed. “Things just go in one ear and out the other.
“I have gone up to a player to tell him I am going to kick long to him during the game and he has told me, ‘But, Fabien, the boss has just said I'm not playing tonight’. People will give me advice, but I know I will not listen. I am an instinctive player.”
Fabien, we salute you!
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