NANTES (AFP) - France's World Cup winning goalkeeper Fabien Barthez may not return to help save Nantes' stricken season following a violent run-in with a group of disgruntled supporters.
Basement side Nantes succumbed to a 2-0 home defeat to Rennes on Saturday, and their hopes of top flight survival will hinge on the remaining four games of the French championship.
After Barthez's post-match fracas with a group of supporters who tried to drag him from his car, club president Rudi Roussillon said Sunday the keeper may not return.
"He has gone to find some comfort with his family. It's plausible he may not return (for the final matches)," said Roussillon.
"It's hit him hard, I would even go so far as saying he's been traumatised.
"He asked us if he could go back to see his family. I hope I can get him to come back, but if he says no then I would understand."
Whether Barthez returns at all to the stricken club is another poignant question for the Canaries' frustrated fans.
Local shopkeepers close to Barthez's rented house said he had passed by to say his farewells on Sunday, suggesting the former Marseille and Manchester United keeper has a one-way ticket back to the south of France.
After just five minutes of Saturday's match, Barthez became the target of insults from certain sections of the Nantes support.
Five supporters then accosted him in the stadium car park, insulting him then attacking his car as he tried to drive away from the scene.
Barthez was forced to fight back as one of his assailants tried to pull him from the driver's seat.
Barthez, 35, has been unsettled since joining Nantes in January and been accused on several occasions of feigning injury to avoid training.
In his 14 matches with the club he has conceded 23 goals.
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