Monday, April 7, 2014

7 April 1983 - The Only Time France And Germany Agreed On Anything

On 7 April 1983, three-time French Player of the Year Franck Ribéry was born in Boulogne-sur-Mer. A winger who prefers to play on the left, he is considered by many to be one of the leading French players of his generation, with former French superstar Zinedine Zidane calling him "the jewel of French football."

Ribéry began his professional career in 2000 with his hometown team, Boulogne, then in the fourth division. After only two seasons, which saw Boulogne promoted only to be relegated again, he moved to couple of lower-division teams (Olympique Alès, 2002-03, and Stade Brestois, 2003-04) before landing in Ligue 1 with Metz in 2004. His initial stay in the French top flight was brief, as he left after only six months due to a contract dispute, ending up at Istanbul's Galatasaray in January 2005.

His stay in Turkey was equally brief, as after winning the 2005 Turkish Cup, he returned to Ligue 1 to play for Marseille. Although he had three years left on his contract with Galatasaray, he petitioned FIFA to void it, claiming that he had not been paid and that a Galatasaray director had threatened him with a baseball bat. The Turkish club denied the charges, but FIFA decided the matter in Ribéry's favor.

In two seasons at Marseille, he established himself as one of France's most dynamic and creative players, helping the club to capture the 2005 UEFA Intertoto Cup, then reach the back-to-back Coupe de France finals in 2006 and 2007, leading to his first French Player of the Year Award. His success in Marseille sparked a bidding war among several European clubs, including Arsenal and Real Madrid, but Germany's Bayern Munich eventually signed him in 2007 for €25 million.

At Bayern, Ribéry was instrumental in helping restore the club to its former glory, securing a double in 2007-08 by winning the German Cup and the league. For his role, Ribéry was named both the 2008 French Player of the Year and the 2008 German Footballer of the Year. He is currently still playing for Bayern, having won another three league titles (2010, 2013, 2014) and the Champions League (2013).

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