Fabien Barthez will be best remembered for winning the World Cup with France in 1998 and for representing Manchester United for four years between 2000 and 2004. He will look back fondly on those times but he will also be delighted at his most recent achievement.
Barthez has been honrary president of Luzenac Ariege Pyrenees since 2012 and his duties include bringing in new players to the club, These players have now led the club to promotion to Ligue 2 following a 1-0 win over Boulogne at the weekend. This is the first time they will have played at this stage and is a remarkable achievement for a club that plays in a village with just 65o inhabitants.
Fabien was born just 20 miles away from the village which is close to the border between France and Spain, hence Pyrenees being included in the club name.
Up until 2000 they were playing in the sixth tier and have gradually moved up the pyramid. Their attendances this season have been around the 1200 mark but next season they could be playing teams such as; Auxerre, Valenciennes and Lens who regularly attract much higher attendances closer to 20,000.
The club has already had to move stadium once to comply with league regulations and growing attendances, and may have to expand further. Barthez has been able to attract players who have previously played in the top two leagues in France to come down and provide some experience for Luzenac.
Their top goalscorer this season and in the league in fact is Ande N'doh who has scored 21 goals this season and used to play for Le Havre. Now they will try and continue to progress and bridge the gap between themselves and neighbours Toulouse.