Embarrassed by an injured knee, Franck Ribéry, 39, announced on Friday the end of his football career. A hyper-talented and charismatic player, a lovable and sometimes controversial character, the attacking midfielder experienced many difficulties while rising among the best players in the world, especially under the colors of Bayern Munich. In his own way, “Kaiser Franck” marked the history of French football.
Formalization is expected. The daily L’Équipe announced it at the beginning of October: Franck Ribéry will end his career. Due to a knee injury, the Frenchman has only been able to play around thirty minutes this season with his Italian club Salernita in mid-August. At 39, the time has come.
In a video shared on social networks, the son of Boulogne-sur-Mer confirmed his retirement. “The ball stopped but not my feelings for him. Thank you all for this amazing adventure”, said Franck Ribéry. “The pain in my knee just got worse and the doctors were clear: I had no choice, I had to stop playing,” he continued.
The ball stops. The feelings inside me are not. ✨
Der Ball ruht. Die Gefühle in mir nicht. ✨
The ball stopped but not my feelings for him. ✨
It is pallon if closed. Le emozioni dentro di me, no. ✨
— Franck Ribery (@FranckRibery) October 21, 2022
Franck Ribéry left the field, but the newly retired wasn’t done with the round ball. “This is the end of a chapter, of the player, but not the end of my professional history, you can be sure of that. So, I will tell you as soon as possible for the start of a new good chapter”, promise – he. US Salernita confirmed that the former player “will continue, in a different role, to be part of the club”. Probably in framing or in direction (if you have a source to cite)
This scar on the face, pain that became strength
Rewinding the course of Franck Ribéry is a challenge because the life of the man and the footballer is not a long calm river. A native of Pas-de-Calais, his childhood changed when he was just two years old. Victim of a road accident, he hit the windshield. The little boy will be scarred for life with scars on his right cheek and on his forehead.
Years later, these stigmata would contribute to the charisma emanating from Franck Ribéry. But they are also a disease. In early 2018, in the documentary ‘Ma part d’ombre’ on Canal+, he confessed the taunting he received as a child, and how it shaped his shell and personality:
“That’s what gave me this character, also the strength. When you’re young and you’re marked like that, it’s not easy. People’s eyes, critics. (…) At school, parents look at you and talking to each other . It’s funny. (…) It’s annoying. When you’re young, you suffer. But even if they make fun of me, I don’t go to a corner to cry. Never .”, he says in a moving confession .
In poverty, Franck Ribéry developed himself. It’s always been like that for him. In Lille, the troubled teenager was expelled from the training center at the age of 16 and had to seek refuge in Boulogne-sur-Mer, in the third national level. If some young talents follow a linear trajectory, the scarred young man must tread a bumpier, more difficult path. He passed unsuccessful exams, worked for some time on construction sites and found himself in Alès, then in Brest, still in the National.
Explosion of the “child” in Marseille and the French team
His only season in Finistère, in the National, was decisive. He shone with Stade Brestois and caught the eye of recruiters. FC Metz seized the opportunity and, at the age of 21, Franck Ribéry discovered Ligue 1 with the Grenats. His beginnings were dazzling. France discovered a supersonic, elusive phenomenon, a real test for defenders. Six months later, the little prodigy joined Galatasaray. In Turkey too, the French would only stay for six months.
In the summer of 2005, he returned to France for “Ti Franck”. Olympique de Marseille attracts the will-o’-the-wisp. As at Metz last year, Franck Ribéry achieved success. Adopted by the public of Marseille, the attacking midfielder is increasingly visible in the eyes of the whole world, with an extraordinary season on a personal level (12 goals, 8 assists).
The icing on the cake came in the spring of 2006 when Les Bleus coach Raymond Domenech decided to take the rookie to the World Cup in Germany. In a French team made up of experienced executives, Franck Ribéry brings a unique madness and recklessness. He was welcomed by the group, the Marseillais was called by captain Zinédine Zidane.
The transplant was a complete success. The newcomer started and entered the hearts of fans on June 27, 2006, in the round of 16 against Spain. La Roja was leading 1-0 when the 41st arrivede minutes of play: launched by Patrick Vieira, Franck Ribéry dribbled past Iker Casillas and equalized for the French team, who would win 3-1. “Go ahead my little one! (…) He is brilliant, the kid!” exclaimed journalist Thierry Gilardi, in a comment that has remained famous. Ribéry and his partners will finish the vice-world champions.
2010, the terrible year
In 2007, Franck Ribéry changed the dimension by joining a European cador: Bayern Munich. There, he would inherit the nickname “Kaiser Franck” (“Franck the Emperor”), as a nod to Franz Beckenbaueur, legendary defender of the Bavarians. For 12 years, the number 7 will enchant Bavaria, especially this Champions League which was lifted in 2013.
It was also during these years that Ribéry’s star faded. The year 2010 was a nightmare. In April, the “Zahia affair” broke out: Franck Ribéry was accused of having sex with an escort girl, Zahia Dehar, when he was still a minor. Karim Benzema was also accused. Justice would finally release the two players in January 2014, but Franck Ribéry’s image was tarnished.
As a result, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was a total failure. On the ground, the France team is ridiculous, a far cry from its level four years ago. Behind the scenes, the group is having a blast. After the exclusion of Nicolas Anelka, the Blues rebelled and boycotted a training session in Knysna, in front of cameras around the world.
The gloomy France team and the French press are buzzing with the alleged enmity between Franck Ribéry and Yoann Gourcuff. This fall, the Bayern Munich player invites himself one morning in tap-socks to the set of the program Téléfoot, on TF1, and confesses, in a surreal scene and with a tremor in his voice, all his discomfort.
The witty and refreshing Franck Ribéry is gone. Something broke in South Africa, while in Paris, the Minister of Sports turned on “immature bosses (who) ordered scared children”. The Knysna episode will earn Franck Ribéry a three match suspension.
The Ballon d’Or 2013, an indelible stain
While maintaining a good level in Munich, “Kaiser Franck” is gradually losing touch with the Blues. He did not shine in a disappointing Euro 2012 for France, coached by Laurent Blanc. Under Didier Deschamps then, Franck Ribéry found the light. First of all, he was part of the French reconstruction team.
But the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be played without him. Due to a back injury, he was forced to forfeit. A few weeks later, Franck Ribéry announced his international retirement, at the age of 31, believing he had no support at the time of his injury. The adventure with the Blues, which started with a bang, ends in water sausage (81 caps, 16 goals).
A few months earlier, another episode hurt the dribbler: the third place in the 2013 Ballon d’Or ranking, behind the winner Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Franck Ribéry went on to sign a stratospheric 2012-2013 season. But he still finished on the third step of the podium. “A flight”, as he told Canal+ again:
“It’s difficult. It’s incomprehensible. I’ve won all the trophies. I’m the best player in the Bundesliga and the best player in Europe. I’m there from A to Z, whether at my club or the France team (. ..) I am at the top, there is nothing I can do”, he judged.
In this race for the highest individual distinction, the esthete also had the feeling that there was not a great support from France football: “I had the support of some French people, but I did not have all my country behind I.” The saying “there is no prophet in his country” applies to the player, who was ridiculed among other things for his language mistakes. His “route will turn” has even been passed down to posterity.
A monument of French football
If he felt a certain lack of love in France and missed the train of the Blues world champions in 2018, Franck Ribéry, during his 12 years in Germany, found another home. In 2019, when it was time to leave the house of Munich, the Frenchman made a moving farewell to the Allianz-Arena, the nest of Bayern.
“Thank you. The Ribéry family loves you,” he cried, surrounded by his wife Wahiba and their children. This was before finishing his career at a lower level in Italy, at Fiorentina (2019-2021) and therefore at Salernita.
Today, the ex-Tricolore receives awards from all over the world, at the time of hanging up the crampons after 22 years on earth. In Munich especially, words are the loudest. Oliver Kahn, the flamboyant former goalkeeper turned Bayern manager, praised the man who drives him crazy with his jokes:
“You came to Munich like a cheat, you surprised me once or twice with a bucket of water and you are now an absolute icon of the club. I wish you the best for your future, you will always be at home at Bayern. “
Within the Bavarian behemoth, the French played 425 matches, scoring 124 goals and dishing out 182 assists. He also won 22 trophies, including nine Championship titles and one Champions League. This is enough to remind us, despite criticisms, obstacles and failures, of the immense career achieved by one of the most brilliant and exciting players in the history of French football.