One of world football’s most colourful characters, Barthez was considered to be one of the best goalies on his day, representing a host of successful teams in his career and winning an assortment of honours. Recognised by his shaven head and his flamboyant goalkeeping style, we take a look at some of the top quotes about Fabien Barthez.
Though he spent most of his playing days in his native country France, Barthez became something of a legend in his four seasons with Manchester United.
In to replace the departing Peter Schmeichel and after his performances in the World Cup, Barthez was signed up by Alex Ferguson in 2000. With his eccentric behaviour and goal-saving abilities, he quickly became a crowd favourite, and two Premier League titles followed in three years.
By taking risks, he also attracted criticism due to the errors he made. However, he was undoubtedly one of France’s greatest ever goalkeepers, with 87 international appearances, a World Cup and European Championship triumph in three years, and the most number of matches at a World Cup tournament by a French player. This was also complemented by having the joint most number of clean sheets in the finals competition.
In French domestic football, there was a Champions League honour with Marseille, and a couple of Division 1 successes with Monaco.
After retiring from football, Barthez took up the sport of motor racing in 2008, and has competed in various events around Europe. He was honoured with France’s Knight of the Legion of Honour Order of Merit in 1998.
“…..he’s not the tallest of goalkeepers, but he gets up much higher than anyone else…..He’s got a great spring, though I think what really counts is the speed of his decision-making. He starts off while others are still thinking about it…..I soon realised I was making judgments based on my standards, not his. He covers the ground much more quickly…..”
Tony Coton (Manchester United goalkeeping coach)
“…..apart from his obvious goalkeeping skills, he has the personality to play on the biggest stage…..Fabien is a World Cup winner and has not only the personality but the vast experience that is required…..”
Alex Ferguson (Manchester United manager)
“He’s a brilliant goalkeeper who just has to get his head down and concentrate on the basics of the job.”
Nobby Stiles (former Manchester United player)
“He often takes risks; which is often the definition of a great goalkeeper.”
Mark Perryman (author)
“…..what can I teach the world’s best goalkeeper?…..All I’m doing is keeping the world’s number one ticking over…..”
“…..a player of that calibre…..he’s a good lad…..He’s a terrific goalkeeper, one of the best in the world…..”
“…..his patience, professionalism and the unusual dignity that he has shown since his arrival.”
Christophe Bouchet (Marseille football club president)
“It’s an important challenge for Barthez and he is important for us…..Our team needs someone of his calibre.”
Rudi Roussillon (FC Nantes club president)
“He’s not like other goalkeepers…..He doesn’t see his job as just stopping you losing games. He tries his best to help you win games too.”
“France would not have won Euro 2000 but for him…..He kept them in the final with his saves when Italy were one-up. He is the best in the world in my opinion, and he has given Manchester United added value.”
Gerard Houllier (former France manager)
“The first thing which attracted me to Fabien is that he is an outstanding goalkeeper…..He is a real character. He’s bouncy and bubbly, just like Schmeichel was…..”
“Top goalkeepers are worth their weight in gold and if you’ve got one like that, he’s worth whatever they pay him.”
Steve Bruce (Birmingham City manager)