Franck Ribéry is, without a doubt, one of the greatest players in Bayern Munich history. The Frenchman spent a whopping twelve seasons at the club, winning every trophy there is to win, including a historic treble in 2012/13. Ribéry made 425 appearances for the club and scored 124 goals. His impressive Bayern track record reads: Nine Bundesliga titles, six DFB-Pokals, Four DFL-Supercups, and a Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, and FIFA Club World Cup apiece. Oh, and he also won a DFB-Ligapokal in 2007, whatever that is.
Now that Franck is hanging up his boots, we at BFW decided to get together and celebrate our favorite Ribéry moments at FC Bayern.
Teddy Son “Maverick”
‘Twas a warm spring afternoon in May 2019. Bayern were just a point away from winning the Bundesliga for a seventh straight year. The last Bundesliga match of the season, the last home game of the season, and the last home appearance for Franck Ribéry (and Arjen Robben and Rafinha) were all mixed into one game that would make or break the 18/19 season. Would Bayern be able to bid farewell to their departing legends with one last Meisterschale?
I myself had flown all the way to Munich to witness what could be one of the greatest moments in Bayern history. Clad in red and nestled in the high stands of the stadium alongside a 70,000-strong sea of supporters, I was praying, hoping for a beautiful endgame.
The Bundesliga title was pretty much done and dusted by the hour mark, with Bayern 3-1 up against visitors Eintracht Frankfurt. However, the party was just beginning. With about half an hour remaining on the clock, Ribéry was substituted on for his last dance at the Allianz Arena. Ten minutes later, it happened.
Ribéry dribbled the ball into the penalty area and somehow wriggled his way through two Frankfurt defenders. With another defender and the goalkeeper to beat, the magisterial Frenchman gracefully lifted the ball over the two hapless players. The ball sailed into the back of the net, and Ribéry ripped his shirt off before running towards the fans.
I was ecstatic. I hung out of my seat, nearly falling into the rows in front of me, screaming at the top of my lungs. It was poetry in motion. Ribéry scoring a goal of beauty in his last home game, and me being in the stands to witness it live, it was just too perfect.
The game turned out to be even more perfect when Robben scored his final Bayern goal as well five minutes later. It felt like a dream. A fairy tale. Who writes these scripts?
After the game and the trophy lift, Ribéry spoke directly to the fans, including myself, and thanked them for their support. He failed to control his emotions and burst into tears, shouting “Mia san mia!” into the mike. I couldn’t blame him, I was wiping my teary eyes too. It was the most emotional moment of my Bayern fan life (up until the Champions League triumph a year later).
Danke, Merci, and thank you, Franck. We’ll miss you.
At a time when Bayern needed a big signing and were floundering in Europe, Franck Ribery coming in was a bit of a surprise. Bayern’s power to attract big names at the time was suffering from a lack of a deep run in the UCL ever since the 2001 win. Big names such as Michael Ballack and Owen Hargreaves were leaving. Things weren’t always rosy with Ribery though, especially when he was seen in a rather jolly mood at halftime when Bayern was down to FC Barcelona, 4-0, in the 2008/09 UCL quarterfinals.
Ribery eventually redeemed himself of course. But even before that, there are so many moments to choose from. I will go with a UEFA Cup moment; Ribery scored the equalizer against Getafe in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Cup in 2008 (yes, Bayern played in the UEFA Cup in the 2007/08 season). It came really late as Bayern risked exiting the competition. The match finished 3-3 after extra time and Bayern progressed on away goals. Needless to say, I couldn’t sleep that night after all the excitement.
Here are the highlights:
When Franck played, you knew he loved this club. What more can I, as a fan, ask him for? He loved this club the way I love it. And setting aside his brilliance for a second, that meant so much to me. Thank you, Franck, for everything.
Ah, good ol’ Franck. One of the best players to grace the football pitch and was one of a kind in many ways. He’s had a lot of highlights as a Bayern player, but my favorite Ribery moment was his insane volley against Borussia Monchengladbach on the last matchday of the 2012/13 season.
Bayern were trailing 3-2 at the break when, eight minutes after the restart, Philipp Lahm crosses in from the right and finds Ribery outside the box who volleys it with his left foot past Marc-Andre ter Stegen to level the game at 3-3. That was the Frenchman’s second of the game, before his partner-in-crime Arjen Robben scored six minutes later to complete the comeback.
Honorable mentions include his overhead kick against Frankfurt in 2015/16, dribbling past four Hamburger SV defenders and scoring, and when he floored peak Lionel Messi in the 7-0 aggregate demolition of FC Barcelona. Thank you for everything, Franck. Enjoy your retirement!
I unfortunately am too young to have watched Franck Ribéry in his prime (think of it more as a testament to his longevity than your age), but I can still recount this one iconic goal in the 2015/16 season. After ankle problems and a muscle tear robbed Ribéry of any football in the 2015 half of the season, Ribéry returned to action in February, and while he nabbed himself a couple of assists he had failed to really make his mark. In April Ribéry finally got a start against Eintracht Frankfurt. The game was carefully poised, with neither team really taking control of the game. Mario Götze took a shot in the dark from twenty yards out and goalkeeper Lukás Hrádecky got to it as expected, but the ball bounced awkwardly and looped into the air in the direction of Ribéry at the edge of the box. Ribéry could very well have left the ball and let teammate Thiago Álcantara recover it as it was too high for even a headed attempt, but instead, the Frenchman decided to take it on himself with an acrobatic bicycle kick that rammed into the net past Hrádecky that ended up being the only goal of the game. All of it at the age of 33.
I never experienced a Franck Ribéry south of the age of 30 live but he is still one of the best players I’ve ever watched, which is a testament to his true quality. An all-time great, possibly the greatest pure touchline-hugging winger of all time.
For me, it’s hard to think of Franck Ribéry without Arjen Robben and vice versa. Both of these fantastic players shaped an entire decade of Bayern Munich’s history. As both of these legends retired, I can think of so many magic moments that this congenial duo was not only part of, but single-handedly created. It’s unbelievable to think that Franck Ribéry played over 400 games for Bayern in which he scored more than 100 goals and assisted nearly 200 (Arjen Robben had over 300 games with close to 150 goals and over 100 assists). Talk about die beste Flügelzange der Welt!
My favorite moment of Franck Ribéry was his simply breathtaking corner which assisted Arjen Robben to score an absolute screamer against Manchester United in the 2009/2010 Champions League season where Bayern reached the semi-finals on a 4-4 on aggregate despite a 3-2 loss at Old Trafford. If it were not for the Robbery connection, we would not have made it to the next round. Franz Beckenbauer said the outcome of that game was “one of the most beautiful defeats in the history of FC Bayern”. That is just one of many situations where these two have carried us on their backs and mesmerized us. Watching these Robbery highlights gives me goosebumps over and over again.
Merci Franck, Dank je wel, Arjen. Danke, Robbery. Mia San Mia!
For me, my favourite memories of Franck are more of him as a man than simply as a player. Franck was an angry, driven, almost savage figure, which made him great on the field for us and more than a handful on the pitch.
My favourite memory of Ribéry was his response to the Salt Bae controversy. It was Franck in all his raw glory, stripped down and on display for the world to see.
Franck had dined out at his friend/celebrity chef’s restaurant in Dubai and ordered a steak prepared in gold, costing a reported $350 to $1350 depending on which report you believe.
After posting a video of enjoying this steak on the internet Franck received a mountain of criticism from the media, social justice warriors and haters in general.
But Franck was not going to take that lying down. He struck back with a series of tweets so aggressive and raw that the club fined him for the language he used.
They included these beauties:
“Let’s start with the envious, the hateful, who have surely come through a condom with a hole. (Expletive) your mothers, your grandmothers and even your ancestors. I don’t owe you anything. My success is down to God, myself and those close to me who believed in me. For the others, you are just pebbles in my socks.”
“To the pseudo-journalists who always criticized me, whenever I spend something (because I have learned to give when I earn a lot.) why is this not spread by one of the big national media? No, you prefer to speak about the holiday that I spend with my family. You scrutinize my movements and gestures, what I eat for example! Oh yes, you are here for this type of futility.”
In isolation, some might find these offensive, but they are a window into Franck the man.
Franck grew up poor and had a hard life. He was virtually rejected by his native country who made fun of his strong northern accent, his odd looks (the result of a car crash when he was two years old), and his odd fashion choices. One tabloid survey named him the most hated athlete in France in 2010 and when he did an interview about the French team’s struggles at the World Cup he appeared in flip-flops and socks which captured the headlines and disdain of the French media over his tearful apologies for his own poor play and the team’s poor results. One French minister of sport even called him a “thug”.
Things were not made easier by the fact he converted to Islam to marry the woman he started dating at age 18. In some areas of France is not easy country to be a member of the Muslim faith.
But not even the hate of his home nation and the fruitless banshee wailing of culinary do-gooders and virtue-signaling commentators would slow him down on or off the field.
Elbows flashing and vitriol flying Franck made his through life the same way he did on the pitch. With an unbridled desire to attack everything he wanted and demolish every obstacle that got in his way. Frank took on the hate of his home nation and many in the footballing media and won.
Most importantly he did it “his way.” It was kind of like some strange combination of Frank Sinatra and Conan the Barbarian. It was ugly and harsh to watch at times, but I loved every minute of it.