Forget Manchester United’s Barthez here’s three sporty ex-players

Cantona

Nevermind Manchester United’s motoring man Barthez as there are numerous other multi-sport athletes…

Fabian Barthez was always a keeper who divided opinions among the Old Trafford faithful, but the former Manchester United man was back among the sporting headlines this week after claiming top honours of an altogether different kind… in the world of motorsport.

Taking on a field that included a former Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve, the 42-year-old was the star performer and rightly claimed Frances GT motorsport series with an impressive pair of wins alongside four podium places.

It is hard to believe the former goalkeeper only began his career in this particular sport five years ago, but he’s not the only former footballer to get involved in a different sporting endeavour.

Here are three of our particular favourites.

Leon McKenzie – Boxer

Though not a World Cup winner like the aforementioned Barthez, McKenzie enjoyed a glittering football career that took in top-flight spells with both Crystal Palace and Norwich City.

But what many may not know is that the forward is also the son of former boxing champion Clinton McKenzie. So when it came time to hang up his boots, the Croydon-born player decided to get into the family business, commencing a career as a super-middleweight boxer.

So far the 35-year-old has completed two fights, winning on both occasions with a bright future in prospect for the former Coventry man, who has gone from providing knock out blows in front of goal to dishing them out in the ring.

Bixente Lizarazu - Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

The former Bayern Munich defender made a career out of tussling with some of the biggest names in world football and that’s before we even mention his time with France’s decidedly difficult national coach Raymond Domenech.

But after calling time on his playing career, the Champions League winner decided to grapple with a rather unusual challenge – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Something of a pastime during the later years of his time as a footballer, Lizarazu has already enjoyed success in the sport, becoming the European champion at the Blue Belt Senior 1 Light Division level.

Any strikers with scores to settle against the 43-year-old had best watch their backs.

Eric Cantona – Beach Soccer

After retiring at the top with Manchester United, Cantona tried his hand at any number of endeavours but while his efforts as an actor leave something to be desired he was able to carve out a successful second career… in the world of beach soccer.

But before you go thinking that this is merely a laid-back version of the game, think again with this edition of the sport requiring close control, silky skills and sunglasses… big sunglasses.

Having competed in a series of Asian tournaments, Cantona made his triumphant return to UK shores at the Kronenbourg Beach Soccer competition of 2002 which was held in Brighton.

He then opted to move in the management side of beach soccer, coaching the French national team at the 2005 and 2006 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups.

In 2007 he guided the team to fourth place, but after an unsuccessful 2008 competition, he opted to hang up his boots/sandals.

Looks like the Manchester United job will have to wait.

image: © tEdits

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch