Mathieu Flamini: From Arsenal utility man to millionaire entrepreneur and climate change activist

When footballers retire from the game, they can take a multitude of paths. Some go into training or expertise, while others decide to leave the game behind.

Few are playing a leading role in the fight against climate change and the production of renewable energy resources.

Mathieu Flamini may have had a steady career as a utility footballer who played for Marseille, Arsenal and AC Milan among others, but what he did after hanging up his boots turned out to be quite spectacular.

Flamini came through the Marseille academy, broke into the first team in 2003-04 and appeared in the UEFA Cup final that season.

This caught the eye of Arsene Wenger, with Arsenal rushing to sign Flamini on his first professional contract, a move which infuriated then-OM manager Jose Anigo.

“It’s a great betrayal. He used me well. It’s good for the money that he didn’t sign pro with us. His sporting argument that he was afraid to play less doesn’t hold anymore” , said Anigo. “My gaze will never be the same again.”

Anigo’s warnings that Flamini would struggle to break into the Gunners’ first team proved initially incorrect as, after a season settling in, he played a crucial role in Arsenal’s 2005-06 campaign. playing 49 games in all competitions as they reached the Champions League final. .

However, Flamini never quite mastered the midfield anchor role for which his energy, intelligence and ability should have made him ideal.

Instead, his positional flexibility, along with his high work rate and team ethic, have turned him into a utilitarian man, deployed at full-back and wide midfield as well as his best role as a central midfielder, often coming on as a sub while Cesc Fabregas and Gilberto Silva filled in the starting roles.

There were some shining moments, like his long-range strike against Newcastle in January 2008 which was voted among Arsenal’s 50 greatest goals of all time, but they were fleeting and frustrating, for fans and audiences alike. players.

Flamini opted to move on at the end of his four-year contract, signing for Milan, where he continued to be the jack-of-all-trades, initially playing at right-back before moving to midfield.

He helped Milan to the 2010-11 Scudetto – their last Serie A title at the time of writing – before a knee injury that summer ruled him out for most of the following campaign.

Released by Milan in 2013, he returned to Arsenal initially to train and keep fit before signing permanently.

He was part of the teams to win back-to-back FA Cups in 2014 and 2015 but was an unused sub in both games, having also been left out for the Gunners’ previous triumph in 2005.

Flamini last left Arsenal in 2016 – having remarkably never lost a Premier League game at home for the club – and after spells with Crystal Palace and Getafe he retired from professional football and moved on to full-time to a second career that seeks to be far more meaningful than his first.

During his football career, in 2008 Flamini co-founded GF Biochemicals, the world’s first company to mass-produce levulinic acid, seen as potentially key in producing more environmentally friendly biofuels.

It can also be used in biodegradable herbicides, as well as several other household items, such as air fresheners and perfumes, as well as plastics and pharmaceuticals.

A true entrepreneur, Flamini’s value is estimated at around €20m (£16.7m/$21.7m), enough to eclipse even any Premier League footballer.

“Growing up by the sea, I could see from a very young age the impact of plastics in the water, on the beach,” Flamini told the Guardian in August 2020.

“It’s horrible and it makes you realize that if we don’t change anything, the place where we live will no longer be livable.

“I was very aware of everything, very curious. I always said to myself: ‘If I do anything else later outside of football, I want it to be around sustainability.'”

His success in the business world brought Flamini back into the Arsenal discussion in November 2020, when dissatisfaction with the ownership of Stan Kroenke led to rumors the former player could lead a takeover from his former club.

While he dismissed talk of a takeover at the time, Flamini indicated that a return to football at some point was on the cards.

He said Athleticism“Don’t ask me how I’m going to get involved in football, because it’s not something I thought about.

“But, definitely, it’s something I’ve been a part of forever in my life. I’ll always want to be a part of this community.”

It seems likely that Flamini will return to football at some point in the future – as he plays his part in ensuring we all have a future to look forward to.