Mathieu Valbuena forced his way into France's FIFA World Cup squad in South Africa after playing a leading role in Olympique de Marseille's 2009/10 Ligue 1 title success. The diminutive playmaker has a knack of scoring vital goals, one of them giving Les Bleus a 2-1 win against England at Wembley in a November 2010 friendly.
• Born in south-west France, Valbuena was rejected by local club FC Girondins de Bordeaux for being too small.
• Blossomed in France's third tier at FC Libourne-Saint-Seurin, winning promotion to Ligue 2 in 2006 and being voted the National Division's player of the year; the success earned him a dream three-year contract with Marseille.
• An injury-wrecked debut season was followed by a fine 2007/08 campaign, the highlight of which was a winning goal against Liverpool FC at Anfield in a UEFA Champions League group match.
• Career took a giant step forward after a game-changing performance, and goal, as a substitute in the 2010 French League Cup final against Bordeaux; also scored freely during the run-in to Marseille's first Ligue 1 title for 18 years.
• That contribution to Marseille's double trophy success earned him a first cap for France, which he celebrated with a goal in a 2-1 win against Costa Rica; included in the 2010 World Cup squad and ended the international year with the decisive strike in a friendly versus England.
• Scored a superb 87th-minute winner against Borussia Dortmund on matchday six of the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League group stage to secure Marseille a place in the last 16, and ended the season as a French League Cup winner for the third successive season.
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