Franck Ribery (Getty Images)
PARIS, June 7: Fast, fiery and combative, Franck Ribery has been a central player in Bayern Munich’s glory years as well as France’s roller coaster ride on the international stage.
But he said the Brazil World Cup would be his last and the back injury that ruled him out of the tournament on Friday has robbed Ribery of probably a last chance to show his skills at a major tournament.
The 31-year-old from humble beginnings in the English Channel fishing port of Boulogne-sur Mer has scored 16 goals in 80 international appearances for France.
He has become one of the biggest and most tempestuous stars in world football.
Some say Ribery reached his peak as a footballer in 2013, but 2014 has been an injury-marred disaster.
In a remarkable 12 months last year, Ribery — whose face was scarred in a car crash as a child — was arguably the star in a Bayern Munich side that won the Champions League, German title, the German Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup.
Named as player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA, he was a strong contender for the FIFA Ballon d’Or for the world’s best player. In the end he had to settle for third behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The awards reverse set off a bout of depression and the series of injuries that led to Friday’s withdrawal from the World Cup
Ribery has still had a stellar career however. After spells at Metz in France and Galatasaray in Turkey, it was with Marseille that he first emerged before moving to Germany in 2007.
Ribery said French clubs had never made him feel welcome and Bayern had always made him feel he was wanted.
The move came 12 months after he helped France reach the World Cup final alongside Zinedane Zidane.
The Frenchman is known as a prankster, he drove a tractor onto a pitch before one of his final games for Marseille.
But he has also been embroiled in controversy. Ribery and French teammate Karim Benzema faced charges of having sex with an under-age prostitute. After a four-year inquiry and case, the two were cleared in January this year.
He was also banned for three internationals for his role in the player revolt after Samir Nasri was sent home from the 2010 World Cup.
This year, Ribery was beset with injuries which severely restricted his appearances for club and country in 2013-2014.
“It is like killing my soul that I am forced to leave the French team and give up the World Cup,” he said in a statement released after the withdrawal was confirmed.
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