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Ribéry to leave Bayern: what makes him special?

Franck Ribéry is set to depart Bayern in the summer; here's why he deserves to be regarded as a modern great.

Franck Ribéry celebrates with the UEFA Champions League trophy after the 2013 final
Franck Ribéry celebrates with the UEFA Champions League trophy after the 2013 final ©Getty Images

A 2013 European champion and eight-time Bundesliga winner, Franck Ribéry will be leaving Bayern München when his contract expires at the end of the season. UEFA.com pays homage to the Frenchman, who has sparkled for the German giants since 2007.

Expert testimony

"A decade at one club – and that at Bayern, where the highest standards are required – represents an outstanding achievement, all the more so because he's always been a key player."
Ottmar Hitzfeld, former Bayern coach

"Bayern's great successes over the last few years are linked to the name of Franck Ribéry. He's a great artist and a favourite with the fans."
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Bayern chairman

"When we signed him, it was like winning the lottery."
Franz Beckenbauer, former Bayern captain and coach

"He always wants the team to play well. He puts the team first and then himself."
Mats Hummels, Bayern defender

"Franck Ribéry is irreplaceable. My relationship with Franck is special. He welcomed me and helped me from the very start. We know how important he is for us."
David Alaba, Bayern defender

Five classic Ribéry goals

Current tally

International: 81 appearances, 16 goals
UEFA club competition: 117 appearances, 25 goals
Domestic competition: 517 appearances, 128 goals

Compelling evidence

Ribéry gets his hands on Europe's biggest prize
Ribéry gets his hands on Europe's biggest prize©AFP

• Ribéry was the key player as Bayern became the first German club to win a treble of UEFA Champions League, DFB Cup and Bundesliga titles in 2012/13. Influential throughout, the Frenchman created Arjen Robben's winner in the Wembley final against Dortmund. "You wanted success for the whole team and put your individual ability at the service of the greater good," Jupp Heynckes wrote in kicker of Ribéry's efforts.

• Ribéry pipped Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to the UEFA Men's Player of the Year honour in 2013. "This award crowns a very special year," he said after becoming only the fourth Bayern player – following Gerd Müller, Franz Beckenbauer and Rummenigge – to win either the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award or the Ballon d'Or.

• Now 36, Ribéry has always had a penchant for the eye-catching. His first goal for Bayern was a Panenka penalty against Werder Bremen; his collection of fine strikes has expanded with time to include a stunning volley against Mönchengladbach in 2013 and a brilliant chip against Plzeň later that year.

• With 422 first-team outings for the Bavarian giants since joining from Marseille in 2007, Ribéry is Bayern's leading non-German appearance-maker, having overtaken current sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić (365) in December 2017. The Frenchman's eight Bundesliga titles also make him the most decorated non-German in Bayern history.

• Ribéry's displays in his first term at Bayern brought him Germany's 2008 footballer of the year prize – making him only the second non-German to scoop this accolade (after Ailton in 2004). He landed a second successive French equivalent that same year.

What you might not know

One look is all it takes: Alaba and Ribéry
One look is all it takes: Alaba and Ribéry©Getty Images

• Ribéry shares a firm friendship with Bayern team-mate Alaba. "We get on perfectly," Ribéry said in 2013. "We don't even need to say anything – on and off the field: a quick look in his eyes is enough for me to know what he's going to do next." Alaba replied: "Franck isn't just a world-class footballer, he's also a great person. He doesn't look down on young players but treats them as equals."

• From cutting the toes off Daniel Van Buyten's socks to driving the team bus, the Frenchman is a prankster. His most famous practical joke came in 2008, when he and Van Buyten waited on the roof of Bayern's training centre to pour buckets of cold water over fearsome goalkeeper Oliver Kahn as 'Der Titan' was getting into his car.

• Ribéry worked briefly with his father as a labourer before his football career took off. "I understood just how difficult my father's job was," the winger recalled. "I also understood that job was not for me. I absolutely had to succeed in football."

• Nicknamed 'Ferraribéry' at Galatasaray due to his speed, Ribéry earned the moniker 'Kaiser Franck' (King Franck) in Munich, where he is adored by the Bayern faithful.

What he says

Ribéry enjoys his first UEFA Champions League goal in 2008
Ribéry enjoys his first UEFA Champions League goal in 2008©Getty Images

"I don't want to think about what comes next because I want to enjoy every single day I have here with my team for the next three weeks. I don't know where I'll go to play football. Of course I'll still be playing, but I am not 100% certain where yet."

"In my first season we weren't in the Champions League, we were in the UEFA Cup. Bayern were a big club back then but now it's even bigger. It's pleasing to see what we've achieved in the last ten years. I've done my bit to get the club where it is now, and Bayern have obviously had an influence on my development too. The relationship between Bayern and me is special."

"I've become more German during my time here. My mentality and my family are German. We've really put down roots here."