Franck Ribéry (born 7 April 1983) is a French international footballer who plays for German club Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga and for the France national team. He primarily plays as a winger, preferably on the left side although being right-footed, and is known for pace, energy, skill and precise passing. Ribéry is described as a player who is fast, tricky and an excellent dribbler, who has great control with the ball at his feet. Since joining Bayern, he has been recognised on the world stage as one of the best French players of his generation. The previous talisman of the French national team, Zinedine Zidane, has called Ribéry the “jewel of French football”.
Ribéry’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, Ribéry joined US Boulogne, where he played for two years. After spending two more years in the amateur divisions with two different clubs (Alès and Brest), in 2004, Ribéry earned a move to Ligue 1 club FC Metz. After six months with the club, Ribéry moved to Turkey in January 2005 joining Galatasaray where he won the Turkish Cup. After six months at Galatasaray, he departed the club in controversial fashion in order to return to France to join Marseille. Ribéry spent two seasons at the club helping the Marseillais reach the final of the Coupe de France in back-to-back seasons.
In 2007, Ribéry joined German club Bayern Munich for a then club-record fee of €25 million. There, he has won the double on two occasions; in the 2007–08 and 2009–10 seasons. In 2010, Ribéry reached with FC Bayern the 2010 UEFA Champions League Final, but was unable to participate in the match due to suspension. In 2012, Ribéry reached the final again, but Bayern lost against Chelsea on penalties. Finally in 2013, Ribéry won the Champions League and the Treble, with Bayern Munich in a “German” final against rivals Borussia Dortmund. Ribéry is a French international. Prior to representing the senior team, he played at under-21 level. At senior level, Ribéry has represented his nation at two FIFA World Cups and two UEFA European Football Championships. He made his international debut in May 2006 against Mexico. At the 2006 World Cup, Ribéry scored his first international goal against Spain and played in the final match against Italy. Individually, Ribéry is a two-time winner of the French Player of the Year award and has also won the German Footballer of the Year becoming the first player to hold both honours. He has also been named to the UEFA Team of the Year and declared the Young Player of the Year in France. In 2013, Ribéry was ranked as the third-best footballer in Europe by Bloomberg and won the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award
Ribéry was born in Boulogne-sur-Mer, Pas-de-Calais and raised in a low-income neighbourhood on the fringes of the city. When he was two years old, he and his family were involved in a car accident in his hometown, colliding with a truck. Ribéry suffered serious facial injuries that resulted in more than one hundred stitches and which left two long scars down the right side of his face, and another across his brows. Prior to joining Stade Brestois in 2003, he worked as a construction worker with his father, which Ribéry referred to as a “learning experience”.Ribéry’s younger brother François is also a football player, and has played for numerous amateur clubs in France. François played for Bayonne in the Championnat National. Ribéry’s wife, Wahiba, is a French national of Algerian descent and the couple have two daughters and a son. Ribéry is a convert to Islam and, following his conversion, adopted the name Bilal Yusuf Mohammed.
Since establishing himself as an international, Ribéry has been involved in numerous promotional campaigns. For the 2008–09 season, he appeared, alongside international teammate Karim Benzema, on the French cover of video game FIFA 09. Ribéry is sponsored by American sportswear company Nike and regularly wears Nike Mercurial Vapors. He has appeared in several television advertisements for the brand and, during the 2007–08 Bundesliga season, starred in a one-time television show called “The Franck Ribéry Show”, which aired on Direct 8 in France.
The show, sponsored by Nike, acted as a variety show with Ribéry appearing in several sketches.On 25 May 2010, a 27 by 30 metres (89 × 98 ft) billboard of Ribéry was officially unveiled in his home city of Boulogne-sur-Mer ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The billboard paid tribute to a similar billboard that was erected for Zinedine Zidane in his home city of Marseille during his career. The construction of the billboard was initially suspended due to possible image ramifications associated with Ribéry’s alleged relationship with an underage prostitute. However, the Regional Council of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, which initially opposed the billboard, agreed to allow construction of the billboard. The billboard was a project of Ribéry’s sponsor Nike and was on display for the duration of the FIFA World Cup.
Alleged prostitute scandal
On 18 April 2010, it was first reported by French television service M6 that four members of the French national team were being investigated for their roles as clients of a prostitution ring that was being operated inside of a Paris nightclub with some of the women possibly being underage. The report also stated that two of the players were already questioned as witnesses by judge André Dando and a group of magistrates. The report described the two players as being one who “is a major player in a big foreign club” and that the other “plays in the championship of France Ligue 1”. Later that day, the players were discovered to be Ribéry and Sidney Govou. During his interview with Dando, Ribéry reportedly admitted to having a relationship with a prostitute, but did not know that she was a minor at the time the relationship began.
On 29 April 2010, the country’s Secretary of State for Sports Rama Yade, after refusing to publicly comment on the case in its infancy, declared that any player placed under investigation should not represent the France national team. The following day, a judicial source confirmed that Ribéry would not be placed under official investigation, if at all, before the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. On 20 July, Ribéry was questioned by Paris police and, following questioning, was indicted by judge Dando on the charge of “solicitation of a minor prostitute”. In November 2011, prosecutors asked for the cases against Ribéry and Benzema to be dropped, saying that the players were not aware that the escort, identified as Zahia Dehar, was 16 years old when they had paid to have sex with her.
Ribéry began his football career at age six playing in the youth section of amateur club FC Conti de Boulogne-sur-Mer. After a seven-year stay, in 1996, he joined professional outfit Lille, who were playing in the second division. While at Lille, Ribéry excelled athletically, but developed academic and behavioral problems, which led to Lille releasing him. In 2012, during a press conference ahead of Bayern Munich’s Champions League tie against his former club Lille, Ribéry explained that he was released from the Lille academy after suffering a broken elbow and that Lille officials had previously wanted to drop him from the academy for being “too small”.
After leaving Lille, Ribéry returned to his hometown joining the biggest club in the city, US Boulogne. After spending a year in the reserves, he was promoted to the senior team. Ribéry only made four appearances in his debut season as Boulogne, who were playing in the CFA, the fourth division of French football, earned promotion to third-tier Championnat National. In his second season with the club, Ribéry appeared in 25 league matches converting five goals. Though Boulogne finished 17th, which meant a return to the fourth division, Ribéry’s solid performances earned him a move to fellow National club Olympique Alès. In his only season at the club, Ribéry made 18 appearances scoring only one goal. Following the season, despite finishing safe, Alès were relegated to the Division d’Honneur, the sixth division of French football, by the DNCG after the club declared bankruptcy. The resulting news led to Ribéry signing with Stade Brest, another Championnat National club. At Brest, Ribéry established himself as a premier player in the league appearing in 35 league matches scoring three goals. Ribéry’s performance and the team as a whole led to the club finishing second in the league, thus earning promotion to Ligue 2.
Despite the success with Brest, Ribéry sought to play in Ligue 1, the top division of French football. His dream came to fruition when FC Metz‘s manager Jean Fernandez took a liking to him and recruited him on a free transfer. Ribéry only spent half a season at Metz, but impressed earning the UNFP Player of the Month in August 2004. He scored his only league goal for Metz on 6 November in the team’s 1–1 draw with Toulouse. His stellar play on the right side of midfield led to Metz supporters comparing him to Robert Pirès, a former Metz legend. After negotiations on an extension ended in a stalemate, in January 2005, Ribéry relocated to Turkey. There he joined Galatasaray on an initial loan deal; the Istanbul-based outfit had the right to pay Metz €2 million to make the move permanent.
At Galatasaray, Ribéry was brought in by manager Gheorghe Hagi and appeared in 14 league matches as the club finished in third place position. While playing for the club, Galatasaray supporters nicknamed him Ferraribery, in reference to his quick acceleration with the ball at his feet and also Scarface, due to a large scar located on the right side of his face. In the Turkish Cup, Ribéry was instrumental in the club’s 5–1 thrashing of rivals Fenerbahçe in the competition’s ultimate match. He scored the opening goal in the 16th minute and also assisted on another goal. Ribéry was later substituted in the 52nd minute with Galatasaray leading 3–1. The trophy was Ribéry’s first major honour..