Barthez, who many of us remember for several dozen "quirky" decisions on the pitch, and one brilliant move off the pitch, is having some troubles on his retirement tour in Nantes.
Says the AP:
Barthez, a World Cup and European Championship winner with France, has made costly errors in recent matches - and was booed and jeered by some Nantes fans during Saturday's game. Several fans surrounded Barthez's car as he left the Stade de la Beaujoire, kicked the vehicle and tried to pull him out.
FC Nantes is a team with a long and perhaps too-proud history, and they are apparently looking pretty squarely at relegation (for the first time in decades). Combine that with the easy scapegoating of a goalie (Good Lord, it can be an awfully lonely position) and add in Barthez's own penchant for forcing the scapegoat tag on himself, this is quickly becoming a very dangerous place for Fabien to ply his wares.
It is difficult to wonder at the motivation of Nantes President Rudi Roussillon, who talked the engimatic Barthez out of retirement, and now has offered Barthez private security to finish out the season. It clearly isn't going well, and there seems to be very little to be gained by having Barthez stay on there. Perhaps Rudi is looking for a way to get rid of Fabien, and then comfort the widow Evangelista? As the Bible says, "Beware of guys named Rudi bearing gifts"*
Regardless, Barthez is having none of it. Again, from the AP:
"I'm not going to play again with Nantes,'' Barthez said on France-Info radio Monday. "A gang of five or six guys came to block me from leaving the stadium. They were there to rub me out, as they said.''...
"With Nantes, I would have gone to the end, but that goes beyond the realm of sports.''....
"I am not ready, I will never live like that,'' he said. "I no longer feel secure like that, so I prefer to leave.''
This is at once a very inglorious and yet apt way for Barthez' career to end. We'll miss you, you crazy French bastard!
*Towards the back, somewhere.