Fabien Barthez may be renowned for his stellar performances between the sticks at Old Trafford over the years, but this weekend he publicly announced his arrival in motor racing.
The former Manchester United goalkeeper, now 42-years-old, was crowned champion of the French GT motorsport series on Sunday.
The racing series, which concluded at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille on Sunday, has featured nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb this season.
Barthez picked up a total of 174 points – 21 more than his closest rivals – to win the title for the Sofrey ASP team.
He and teammate Morgan Moullin-Traffort crossed the line in fifth and eighth places in the final two races of the season.
“I have always been fascinated by motorsport, even when I was playing football,” the Frenchman told lemanslive.com.
“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.”
The former World Cup winner, who picked up two wins and four podium finishes over the course of the championship, has previous experience in motorsport having taken part in a Le Mans test last year.
He has also raced in the Porsche Carrera Cup, and admitted that he would relish the chance to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hour race one day if the opportunity arose.
For now though, Barthez is still learning his trade, although he has already had guidance from a number of respected figures in the world of motorsport.
Formula Renault driver Nicolas Minassian, Sofrey ASP team manager Jerome Policand and Olivier Panis, who won Formula One’s Monaco Grand Prix in 1996, have all offered advice to the former goalkeeper.
“I don’t like asking for tips from too many people because you end up not knowing whose advice to listen to,” added Barthez.
“My only teachers are Nicholas Minassian, Jerome Policand and Olivier Panis. They told me to take my time and take things one step at a time.”
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