Despite helping Bayern Munich to win a national record of 24 Bundesliga and 17 DFB Pokal titles, Franck Ribery has had a year to forget at the Bavarian giants.
In what was a great 2013 where Ribery helped the German champions to win an historic triple, an honour which had been in the making for the past ten years, this year has gone from good to bad to worse for the Frenchman.
It doesn’t take a clairvoyant to suggest that Ribery has been hurting ever since he came third to winner Cristiano Ronaldo, and 2nd place Lionel Messi in January’s Ballon d’Or award.
Riddled with emotion as he said that he deserved the award the most , after the 31 year old gave Bayern copious pains of blood, sweat and tears into ensuring that after years of slumber the Bavarian Giants were able to reach the summit of world football once again.
Indeed, Ribery had been nursing a back injury during the ceremony, an injury which six months down the line would cost him a place in France’s 2014 World Cup squad.
Whilst the majority of fans and Bayern personnel believed that the winger would return from his injury fit and raring to go in an attempt to prove to the world of football that Ronaldo winning the Ballon d’Or was a huge mistake, they witnessed the complete opposite.
Although the Frenchman was able to mark his Bundesliga return with a goal in Bayern’s 6-1 win stuffing away to VfL Wolfsburg, Ribery went on to only last an average of 55 minutes in the German champions remaining seven league fixtures.
World Cup heartache
Ribery went on to miss Bayern’s last two games of their title winning season, in an attempt to recover from a niggling back injury which had blighted the midfielder for the past five months in order to be in prime heath ahead of France’s World Cup exploits.
He arrived at France’s pre-World Cup training camp utterly exhausted and had to leave the preparations after the team’s doctor admitted that his back injury had failed to improve significantly enough to be considered for selection.
This was to be his last meeting with the rest of the France team, after he took a wise decision to call an end on his eight year international career in order to focus on getting his career at at the Allianz Arena outfit back on track.
Whilst a large section of the media and fans believe that Ribery’s decision to call time on his France career is unjustified, whilst raising the point that he has left his international potential unfilled, it is perhaps fair to say that this decision deserves hearty applaud.
Although Ribery has long been considered as quite possibly the best professional to represent France since the days of Zinedine Zidane, the 31 year old has been hit and miss for the past year.
Even though he scored four goals for France during the 2013-14 international season in helping Les Bleus to reach the World Cup finals, he often seemed to return to Bayern exhausted and needed at least a week’s rest to recharge his batteries.
Ribery has left France in a healthy state after years of early tournament exits and media integrations, and Didier Deschamps will now be able to call upon Antoine Griezmann, who impressed during the World Cup to play on the Left-wing without the old-timer standing on his feet.
Now that Ribery has got that call to Deschamps out of the way, he will no doubt be as keen as ever to re-finding his old form at the 2013 Champions League winners, in an attempt to impress Guardiola and get the club’s plans for world domination back on track.
Career not over
Bayern need the former Marseille midfielder more than ever and will be at straws in a hope that Ribery overcomes his worrying back injury and returns to full match fitness before the new Bundesliga season kicks off.
Guardiola categorically understands that his plans for his re-branded version of tiki-taka football will rest firmly on the shoulders of a midfielder who when fully fit is almost impossible to play against.
Now that Ribery does not have the distraction of playing for France as soon as he overcomes one injury due to his ripe age of 31, he can reserve more time and fitness into perfecting his upcoming performances for Bayern.
Some of the best professionals have made the brave and bold decision to call time on their international career, and the likes of Alan Shearer and Paul Scholes are living proof that older football-players can still make a big difference at club level.
Now imagine what everyone would say if Ribery indeed went on to win a Ballon d’Or in the not so distant future.
I am pretty sure that they would say that his decision to end his international career, was probably the best one of his so far glittering career.