Mikaël Silvestre, the French international central defender, is now 34 so the end is in sight for his footballing days. For all the glamour and wealth among the top flight, the career of a footballer is a relatively short one. You break into the first team squad (assuming you’re good enough and lucky enough), maybe have a few injuries and, before you know where you are, you’re in your late twenties/early thirties and being written off as a veteran.
The big question looms: What to do next? Well, Silvestre, like so many, hopes to remain in football and step up to management. Being intelligent does not necessarily mean you are going to be a good or great manager, but it helps. If it were any sort of measure, Silvestre should be destined for great things. He is intelligent, articulate and approachable. Not qualities you normally associate with a professional footballer. He has played under two of the great football managers – the astute, belligerent Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and the cultured, urbane Frenchman, Arsene Wenger, at Arsenal. If you can’t pick up some ideas from the differing styles of those two, you may as well throw in the towel now.
But while Silvestre hankers to stay in football, he does have something else up his sleeve – he has invented a rum brand. Or, to be more precise, a rhum agricole brand.
R.St Barth is the project of Silvestre and his wife, Severine, who is heavily pregnant with the couple’s fourth child (due this month, August), an eagerly awaited boy after three girls, aged, five, eight and 11.
The first thing to establish is: Does Mikael Silvestre drink? Most British footballers are known to like a drink even these days, but continental players less so.
“I rarely drink alcohol,” says Silvestre, speaking in the lounge of a swish hotel by Hyde Park in London. He smiles: “I’d rather smoke than drink. Fabian Barthez and Laurent Blanc (fellow former–French internationals and players at Manchester United) and I would have a cigarette at the end of a game. Otherwise I have a bottle of wine with friends but that is about it.
“I want to stay in football,” says Silvestre. Management maybe?
So how come rum?
“Well, on holiday I enjoy a rum, possibly in a cocktail or with brown sugar and lime. But about four years ago, I was thinking about it,” says Silvestre. “My father came from Guadeloupe, which is part of the French West Indies. Since I was little we used to go every summer. My grandfather worked in the sugar cane fields. As a child when we were on holiday in the Caribbean, I remember being given a stick of sugar cane as a tea time treat,” Silvestre recalls fondly.