France: Franck Ribéry


Written by Gilda Doria in 2013

Edited and updated in 2015 by Jaimee Gundry

Midfielder, #7, 30 Years Old



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The French national team is known for experiencing three “golden generations” in its soccer history. The 1950s, 1960s, and 1990s were the most successful and decorated years for the country, earning top finishes in the World Cup and two UEFA Euro Cup titles. They won the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France and went on to be ranked the #1 team in the world by FIFA World Rankings in 2000. The 2006 FIFA World Cup was devastating for the French squad as they fell 5-3 on penalties to Italy in the final. Following this defeat, this national team has been looking to appear back on the radar and gain the respect back they once had. The early exit before the knockout stages at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa has left some serious concerns for French fans [1]. Qualifying for the 2014 World Cup did not go as smoothly as they had hoped either. A fan poll taken showed that 61% of the French population did not believe France would be playing in the 2014 World Cup, but a win against Ukraine in Paris kept them on the map. Team selection proved controversial however, as allegations relating to a prostitution scandal threatened to exclude France’s top player, Frank Ribéry, from the squad. Ultimately, Ribéry was left out of the team when he failed to recover from a back injury [2].


When French legend, Zinedine Zidane, refers to someone as “the jewel in French football”, you know that player is something very special. That is exactly what Zidane believes Franck Ribéry to be. He may not look like a jewel with the two big scars he acquired after an automobile accident at the age of 2, but he certainly displays beauty on the pitch [3]. The right footed midfielder known for his pace, energy, and excellent ball control has become one of the top players in Europe and was accredited as being French Footballer of the Year in 2013 [4].



Born on April 7, 1983 in Boulogne-sur-Mer France, Franck Ribéry made his international debut in May 2006 in a friendly match against Mexico. He started in all but one game during the 2006 World Cup, and succeeded in scoring his first international goal against Spain in the same tournament.  Over his career with the French senior team, he has represented France at two FIFA World Cups and two UEFA European Football Championships. He is the only player in history to have been awarded with the French Player of the Year Award and German Footballer of the Year Award. For the 2012/13 season, Ribéry beat Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award [5]. Unfortunately, due to injury, he was not able to lead France during the 2014 World Cup.



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Ribéry’s professional career was not as smooth sailing as most. He began his career playing for four different French clubs in the span of four years. He began his professional career playing for the biggest club in his hometown, US Boulogne, before heading to Ales, Stade Brest, and FC Metz in France [6]. During his time at Stade Brest, Ribéry began to establish himself as a premier player in the league and began to spark interests from Ligue 1 managers before being picked up by FC Metz, his first professional contract. Stalemates in a contract extension for FC Metz led him to be transferred to a Turkish club, Galatasaray, on a five-year contract deal in January 2005.  In his debut season with Galatasaray, he won the Turkish national title and Turkish Cup. His career there did not last long as Galatasaray failed to pay his wages for 4 months. Ribéry asked FIFA to cancel his contract early in order to be released on a free transfer to Marseille. After guiding his national team to the final of the 2006 World Cup, Ribéry was sought after by all the best clubs in Europe. Soon after, Bayern Munich signed a four-year deal for a club record $26 million. In his debut season with Bayern Munich, he netted 11 goals and 7 assists. [7]



France finished top in Group E, which was deemed as one of the easiest draws of the tournament. In the group stages they defeated Honduras (3-0), Switzerland (2-5), and Nigeria (2-0), while drawing Ecuador (0-0). The French progressed to the Quarter Final but fell to Germany (0-1) [8]. Franck Ribéry’s absence was definitely felt by France during their World Cup pursuit, but by passing through to the Quarter Finals, France’s 2014 World Cup performance was more successful than that of 2010.


Click here to return to the Players to Watch home page.

Continue on to Group E – Honduras: Roger Espinoza

Group E – Ecuador: Antonio Valencia

Group E – Switzerland: Gokhan Inler

Click here to return to the UEFA page.

Learn about France’s National Anthem


How to cite this article: “France: Franck Ribery,” Written by Gilda Doria (2013), World Cup 2014, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, (accessed on (date)).


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