On this day in 2006 – Fabien Barthez announces retirement from football

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Fabien Barthez announced his retirement from football on this day in 2006 – although it proved not to be the end for the 1998 World Cup winner.

The mercurial Frenchman, who also helped his country win Euro 2000, had been without a club since being released by Marseille at the end of the 2005-06 season.

He had been France’s first-choice keeper in the 2006 World Cup, with his last match being the penalty shoot-out loss to Italy in the final.

Fabien Barthez, playing for Marseille, saves from Liverpool's Steven Gerrard
Fabien Barthez, playing for Marseille, saves from Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard (Phil Noble/PA)

Barthez was with United for four years between 2000 and 2004, winning two Premier League titles in the process, but his erratic displays saw Sir Alex Ferguson lose patience with him and he spent the final season on loan back at former club Marseille, who he subsequently joined on a two-year permanent deal.

Barthez announced his retirement on French television channel TF1, saying: “I am quitting the French team, I am quitting club football. I am going to continue enjoying myself without football.”

The 35-year-old had been trying to agree a deal with Toulouse, where he had begun his career, but it did not work out.

“The only club I wanted to go to was not so happy to have me,” added Barthez. “It happens and you have to live with it. I needed an adventure and I have only done things that I want to.”

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson gives instructions to Fabien Barthez
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson gives instructions to Fabien Barthez (Phil Noble/PA)

Barthez’s club retirement did not last long, though, with the keeper announcing in December 2006 that he had signed a deal with Ligue 1 side Nantes.

But the following April, following an altercation with a Nantes fan, Barthez left the club and, although he stated his intention to carry on playing, he did not make another appearance.

In 2008, Barthez switched sports and began a motorsport career, competing in a variety of categories. Now 51, the Frenchman is still racing.