Former France international and Fabien Barthez survived the wrath of Sir Alex Ferguson, after he was caught smoking in a restaurant.
Reports state that as per an anecdote shared by Fergie’s friend Eckhard Krautzun, it has been revealed how Fergie reacted to the incident (via GiveMeSport). Barthez did try to hide his smoke after seeing his manager and Krautzun enter the restaurant, but it did not miss the eyes of English football’s most successful manager.
The Scotsman has been one of the most respectable managers ever, and had a no-nonsense attitude when it came to handling players and following rules and regulations. In his 26-year career at Old Trafford, the boss never allowed any player to get away from poor attitude, and several high-profile stars often faced the wrath of his ‘hair-dryer’ treatment. Yet Barthez somehow managed to get saved, despite the club having a match the next day.
After catching Barthez with a cigarette, Fergie responded in a very cool manner. “Don’t worry, son! You can smoke, I saw that you were smoking. You’re going to play tomorrow anyway!”
Now fans must be wondering why Ferguson reacted in this manner rather than being his usual self. It’s because United had one of the game’s greatest ever goalkeepers in Peter Schmeichel for eight long years, and enjoyed tremendous success.
Post his exit from the club, Fergie tried filling his shoes with a star keeper, and several players were tried and tested, including Barthez. Astonishingly, none ever managed to be on the level Peter was as a professional, until the club found Edwin van der Sar later on.
Barthez signed for United in 2000, and was already a celebrated figure. It was expected he will take over from where Peter left, but with issues on and off the field, the Frenchman struggled to keep up the momentum. After four seasons at the club, Barthez was dished out by Fergie.
Barthez’s sorry attitude was an enough reason for the gaffer to get mad, but owing to the lack of quality in goal, he probably had to overlook the incident and carry on.
Written by Rajdeep Saha
Sports journalist with stints across print, digital and television. Contribution to each medium has been thrilling. Experienced in writing for this passionate game called football. Journalist by choice and passion.