During an illustrious football career, Fabien Barthez won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championships with France, the Champions League with Marseille, and two Premier League titles with Manchester United.

He retired from football in 2007, but rather than taking the usual route into punditry or management, Barthez opted for an altogether less sedate path. He took up a career in motorsport, and raced for the first time at the Porsche Carrera Cup France in 2008.

Now preparing to race in his fourth Le Mans 24-hour race, the Frenchmen spoke to the Sun about his love of motorsport in a rare interview.

"I have always been fascinated by motor sport, even when I was playing football. It always intrigued me," Barthez said.

"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."

Barthez recalls a conversation with Formula 1 driver Olivier Panis in the summer of 1998, in which the two joked about swapping careers. But what began as a joke became, at least partially, a reality.


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Barthez teamed up with Panis in 2016 to form the Barthez Panis Competition, with the aim of racing at Le Mans. He had already competed in the famous 24-hour race with Team Sofrev ASP in 2014, but has since raced twice at Le Mans with his new team.

They finished 12th in 2016, before failing to complete the race last year - a broken clutch three hours before the end of the race put paid to the team's chances. But Barthez still harbours hopes of adding the Le Mans title to his trophy cabinet. 

The 86th edition of the race starts on the 16th June 2018.