Retirement of Franck Ribéry – “A flight”: how the Ballon d’Or 2013 made Ribéry dive

Franck Ribéry has two scars. One, the one that represses his face, escapes no one, a vestige of a car accident when he was just a child. The other is not visible to the naked eye. It dates from 2013 and from a vote that he never digested. Franck Ribéry is the man of the year 2013 according to Kicker. He won everything: the Bundesliga, the German Cup and, above all, the Champions League. Everything except the Ballon d’Or. This is the tragedy of his that he will never recover from. It must be said that this Ballon d’Or seemed destined for him.

Franck Ribéry during the delivery of the Ballon d’Or in 2013

Credit: Getty Images

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Named UEFA player of the year, present in all the typical teams at the end of the season, the Frenchman embodied above all the hegemony of Bayern Munich. But the votes designated Cristiano Ronaldo who had not won anything that year but he scored 55 goals in as many games. Ribéry, although hailed by journalists, even settled for third place behind Lionel Messi. He becomes one of the countless victims of the two-headed monster like Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Wesley Sneijder and Manuel Neuer.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Pelé – presentation of the Ballon d’Or 2013

Credit: Getty Images

The search for a life

All these players who would have deserved, for posterity, to have their name on the list but who had to lay down their arms in the face of the Ronaldo-Messi wave, driven by statistics, marketing, the voting method including captains and coaches, and the zeitgeist that favors giga-stars over those who run a bus.

Michel Platini then sums up the general malaise: “I am disappointed because the Ballon d’Or, for fifty years, took into account the result, the track record on the field. Here we are at the total value of the players, and that is a problem. I am very disappointed in Franck Ribéry. Next year we will return, and it will be Messi-Ronaldo, in two years it will be Ronaldo-Messi, in three years it will be Ronaldo-Messi…

Ribéry, a former outcast from the training centers in which no one believed in his beginnings, had made the search for a life as revenge on a dented course. So she charges but charges poorly. That same afternoon, when the tide had changed a few weeks ago and the curious delay in the voting benefited Ronaldo, author of a brilliant start to the season, he made the change: “Of course I would have liked to win. But it goes well. The Bayern players, starting with me, are simply proud to have been here.“But no one is fooled in this month of January.

Franck Ribéry with the Champions League won by Bayern Munich in 2013.

Credit: Getty Images

More than a disappointment, it is the greatest injustice of my career.

This race for the Ballon d’Or encouraged him for months and the sanguine Boulonnais, who pushed all his compatriots to support him, was very touchy on the subject until he almost came to blows with Gérard Houllier at half-time in a France-Australia match ( 6-0). The former coach of the Blues had expressed his preference for Ronaldo, Ribéry had not supported him. So when the sentence fell, Ribéry put on a brave face but a part of him fell apart.

It will take years and a lot of hindsight for him to verbalize what he experienced as the most painful episode of his career: “More than a disappointment, it is the greatest injustice of my career.he snapped at L’Equipe in 2019. Not just for me, for many people. He was up and I finished third. He had nothing to envy in that year to Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi“It’s as if it were a robbery,” he will continue to lament on Canal Plus. This year again, last June in the columns of the Gazzetta, he ruminated: “I should have won it. They delayed the allocation of votes, something strange happened. It seemed like a political decision to me.

Ribéry never recovered

He will also admit that it took him a while to recover. But has she really recovered? Because this lost match has sounded especially like the beginning of the end for Ribéry. He should have consecrated him as king but he made him slide down a vertiginous slope. We will never see the Kaiser of 2012/2013 again. At Bayern and especially elsewhere.

Franck Ribéry, his different lives in blue

Credit: Quentin Guichard

This vote also marks a breaking point with a country, France, with which relations had already deteriorated on all sorts of issues. “I had the support of some French but not all of my country.accused in 2018. I saw with my own eyes, the people, the French, the coaches say: it’s Cristiano Ronaldo (the Ballon d’Or). Do you think Portugal would have wanted it to be Messi or Ribéry? Impossible. Do you think Argentina would have wanted Ronaldo or Ribéry to win the Ballon d’Or? Impossible.”

In January 2014 he missed out on the Ballon d’Or. In March, the spearhead of French football unknowingly played his last game for Azul. In June, he missed the World Cup in Brazil with a back injury. In August he retired from international soccer. Something broke with this Ballon d’Or and his standards will continue to fall. And unlike the one on his face, that scar hasn’t healed yet.

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