Announced as the successor to Zinedine Zidane after the latter retired in 2006, it took Ribery, 28, some time to find his way, partly because he isn’t a playmaker like the man he was tabbed to replace. But a meandering club career and a slow start for France finally rolled to a full boil in recent years as Ribery has emerged as one of the world’s foremost attacking players.
Featuring as an inverted winger on the left for Bayern Munich, Ribery is a scourge to defenses with his unstoppable dribbles. He often plays more centrally for France and orchestrates from the heart of the field, combining with teammates. As with Zidane, most of France’s attacks now originate from Ribery, provided that he doesn’t help start another revolt -- like he did at the 2010 World Cup -- and gets himself suspended from the team.
Expert's take: Despite a stellar season for Bayern, Ribery has plenty of convincing the French public to do, as he so frequently disappoints in the blue jersey. The realization that his place is under threat from the likes of Jeremy Ménez may, at last, coax his best international form from him. -- Andy Brassell
Stats That Matter:
• Signed by Bayern Munich for club-record $33 million in 2007
• 7 goals in 57 appearances for France, though his last goal was in April 2009
• Two-time French Player of the Year (2007, 2008)
• 2008 German Footballer of the Year
• Second most UEFA Euros appearances on French squad, with 18 including qualifying