Retired Barthez hailed as a genius
Fri Oct 6, 2006 2:33 PM IST
PARIS (Reuters) - Former team mates and coaches have hailed Fabien Barthez as a goalkeeping genius after he announced his retirement from football on Thursday.
"Fabien informed me of his decision 10 days ago. To me, he is the greatest goalkeeper France have had," Toulouse coach Elie Baup, who gave Barthez his professional debut in 1990, told French sports daily L'Equipe on Friday.
Barthez, 35, was without a club after leaving Olympique Marseille at the end of last season before reaching the World Cup final, losing to Italy on penalties.
Barthez, who also played for Monaco and Manchester United, is France's most-capped goalkeeper after playing 87 times, the last in the World Cup final.
He received 17 of his caps during World Cup tournaments, a French record.
"He broke new ground thanks to his ability to play as an outfield player. Let's be positive: he ended his career with a World Cup final," Baup added.
"I will always remember the way he used to joke in match warm ups. In 1998, before the World Cup final, he just fell down and told me his knee was hurting," said former France goalkeeping coach Philippe Bergeroo.
"I panicked and he just burst into laughter, saying: 'It's alright, don't worry. We're going to play this final and we'll win it'."
"He is among the geniuses," said OM chairman Pape Diouf. "Losing (Zinedine) Zidane and Barthez in the same year, it's very moving."
"We will miss him but in the mean time I am happy for him because he assuaged his passion," said former France captain Marcel Desailly, who won the Champions League with Barthez in 1993 when Marseille beat AC Milan 1-0 in the final.