Franck Ribery (born 7 April 1983) is a French football player who currently plays for Bundesliga club Bayern Munich. Ribery primarily plays as a winger, preferably on the left side, and is known for “pace, energy, skill and precise passing.”
Ribery’s career began in 1989 as a youth player for local hometown club Conti Boulogne. He left the club after seven years to join professional outfit Lille, but departed the club after three years after having difficulties adjusting. In 1999, Ribery joined US Boulogne, where he played for two years. After spending two more years in the amateur divisions with two different clubs (Ales and Brest), in 2004, Ribery earned a move to Ligue 1 club FC Metz. After six months with the club, Ribery moved to Turkey in January 2005 joining Galatasaray and, after six months there, departed the club in controversial fashion to join Marseille in France. In 2007, Ribery joined German club Bayern Munich for a then club-record fee of Euro 25 million. Since joining Bayern, Ribery has been recognised on the world stage as one of the best French players of his generation. The previous talisman of Les Bleus, Zinedine Zidane, has called Ribery the “jewel of French football”.
Ribery is a French International having represented his nation at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2008. At the 2006 World Cup, he scored his first international goal against Spain and played in the final match against Italy. Ribery is a two-time winner of the French Player of the Year award and has also been named to the UEFA Team of the Year once.
When he was two years old, he and his family were involved in a car accident in his hometown, colliding with a truck. Ribery suffered serious facial injuries that resulted in over one hundred stitches and left two long scars down the right side of his face. Prior to joining Stade Brestois in 2003, he worked as a construction worker with his father, which Ribery referred to as a “learning experience”. Ribery’s younger brother François is also a football player, and has played for numerous amateur clubs in France.
Prior to representing the senior team, Ribery was ever present with the France under-21 team earning his first selection on 3 September 2004 in a 1–0 victory over Israel in qualifying for the 2006 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship. Ribery scored his first under-21 goal five days later in a 1–0 friendly win over Slovakia. On 15 November 2005, he scored an important goal against England during the qualification playoffs as France defeated them 3–2 on aggregate to advance to the finals. Ribery, however, missed the competition after earning selection to coach Raymond Domenech’s pre-World Cup squad. In total with the under-21s, Ribery made 13 appearances scoring two goals.
Ribery earned his first cap with the senior team in a 1–0 victory over Mexico on 27 May 2006 appearing as a substitute in the 74th minute for striker David Trezeguet. His solid performances in the friendly matches ahead of the 2006 FIFA World Cup led to his inclusion in the team for the competition. Ribery appeared in all seven matches France contested, starting six. On 27 June, he scored France’s opening goal in the team’s 3–1 Round of 16 win over Spain after receiving a through ball from Patrick Vieira, which allowed the winger to dribble past an oncoming Iker Casillas and shoot into the empty net. He later played in the final where France lost to Italy on penalties. Ribery’s only shot on goal came in extra time and he was later replaced by Trezeguet.
Following the retirement of Zinedine Zidane, it was expected that Ribery would succeed him and become the national team’s talisman. He went scoreless for almost a year and a half before converting a penalty shot against England on 26 March 2008 at the Stade de France. Following the goal, Ribery paid tribute to legendary French commentator Thierry Gilardi who had passed away a day earlier. At Euro 2008, France performed under expectations with Ribery appearing in all three group stage matches as France suffered early elimination. On 17 June 2008, in the team’s final group stage match against Italy, Ribery ruptured a ligament in his left ankle in just the 8th minute of play. Ribery returned to the team on 11 October 2008 in a FIFA World Cup qualification match against Romania and scored the team’s opening goal in a 2–2 draw. On 28 March 2009, he scored the lone goal away to Lithuania. Three days later, he completed this feat again, this time at the Stade de France, netting the winner in the 75th minute following service from Andre-Pierre Gignac.