Another to join the party of retired football folks is Franck Ribéry, a Frenchman with astonishingly speedy legs and a fierce attacking mentality that has served him so well for country and club alike. He has also been one of the familiar faces of football for Les Bleus that I have watched in amazement since I was a young girl. I was profusely saddened by Zinedine Zidane’s departure from the international main stage, and will now resolve to mourn the loss of Ribéry’s tremendous presence for France.
Months prior to the World Cup, Ribéry divulged that this year’s tournament was to be “his last” for Didier Deschamps’ side (The Guardian, May 2014). At such time, his intentions were to rock up in Brazil and steal the thunder from not only the host nation but all other opposing teams. However, this fantasy was soon smothered by disturbing news of a lower back injury which consequently ruled him out of the final squad, alongside the eager but dejected Samir Nasri. Deschamps’ personal issues with Mr Nasri, of current Manchester City stardom, educe that he too will rest his laurels and be seated in the crowd to watch his home team.
Although France’s campaign at the World Cup was enthralling and extremely positive, notably from Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena, it lacked a peppering of experience that Ribéry would have donated with ease. His absence could mark the beginning of a new era of young, athletic Frenchmen seizing control and potentially earning their country a brighter footballing future once again. With Olivier Giroud, Mathieu Debuchy and Laurent Koscielny working in harmony at Arsenal, they could create a strong bond ready to assert with fellow Les Bleus teammates. Paving the way for youthful talent will undoubtedly be an excellent step for France; Antoine Griezmann has already unveiled himself as a key contender to take France forth, and could really land some neat goals in Euro 2016. Many French players have the audacity to get far in tournaments, but their potential must be nurtured effectively if they are to follow in Ribéry’s great, powerful Nike Mercurial Vapors.
31-year-old Ribéry will be lamented by fans, especially as he is hailed as one of the most influential Bayern Munich wingers to presently grace the Bundesliga and has been perceived as something of a rabbit’s foot for his country. He is among many outstanding international talismans to leave their native side in the previous few months, though many of the recent escapees are from Germany, thus they have decided to quit following mighty fruitful, rewarding circumstances (if somehow their joyous news escaped you, they lifted the World Cup trophy back in July). The Bayern number 7 boasts “16 goals in 81 appearances” (The Daily Mail, August 2014) and therefore has done his country proud. Not only this, but he has always been a truly insightful midfielder, with a do-or-die mentality, which is the sort of endearing quality expertly suited to football. Ribéry’s willingness and pure tenacity has recompensed himself, country and club on numerous occasions, and fortunately, he is gladly set to continue for Bayern (the cup victors will commence the fresh season on Friday against VfL Wolfsburg).
Club prowess and honours aside, Ribéry has been entitled French Player of the Year thrice, and was a stunning contender for the 2013 Ballon d’Or, behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, two unbelievable footballing legends. Suffice to say, Ribéry is a phenomenal player and there will be a vast void on the pitch. Despite this suggesting Deschamps could be in rather warm water searching for the next hero in blue, his squad fared better than anticipated at the World Cup this summer and could be on the road to success already.
Albeit upsetting for French fans, Bayern supporters will definitely relish having Ribéry’s undivided focus and determination. We have not bid his career farewell just yet.
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