Clubs: FC Nantes, Olympique Lyonnais
• Graduated from the famous youth academy at Nantes, which includes Didier Deschamps and Marcel Desailly among its celebrated alumni, and made his first-team debut in March 2002 in a UEFA Champions League encounter against FC Bayern München; his first Ligue 1 game – against local rivals Stade Rennais FC – came four days later.
• The combative midfielder was outstanding in the 2004/05 campaign, in which he was voted Ligue 1 young player of the year, drawing offers from several big clubs, but he remained with Les Canaris for another year before joining Lyon.
• Proved to be the perfect replacement in the Lyon midfield for the Real Madrid CF-bound Mahamadou Diarra and won the French title in his first season − while, without him, Nantes were relegated − and secured a Ligue 1/Coupe de France double in his second year at the Stade de Gerland.
• Was named in the Team of the Tournament at the 2006 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Portugal, in which France reached the semi-finals, and received his first call-up the same year, getting his opportunity in UEFA EURO 2008 qualifying as a replacement for injured captain Patrick Vieira.
• Ever-present at the finals and started eight 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers; though he missed both play-off games against the Republic of Ireland through injury he played in two finals matches in South Africa.
• Scored his first goal for Lyon – after over 150 appearances – in a League Cup match against FC Metz on 13 January 2010, and helped his side reach the last four of the UEFA Champions League only to be dismissed in the semi-final first leg after collecting two yellow cards in quick succession.
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