Someday there will definitely be a killer biopic about him. And writing a synopsis will not require fiction and trash inclusions, because in itself his whole life is a ready-made script. The fate of Franck Ribery included the lumpen ghetto, an accident, fights, lawsuits, deceit and love, pain and glory. The seemingly staid Frenchman ended his playing career at the age of 39. And this is an occasion to recall the significant serifs of the biography of one of the most prominent football players of the 21st century.
Ghetto, accident, marks
Frank was born on the banks of the English Channel, in northwestern France, in the port city of Boulogne-sur-Mer with a population of 40,000. The boy from a family of simple hard workers with income “to support his pants” grew up in a poor area on the outskirts of the city – in fact, in a labor ghetto. With all the consequences of such an environment and the lack of multi-colored perspectives.
The boy still did not understand anything in the harsh worldly truths, when the curve of fate carried the Ribery family car right under the wheels of the truck. Miraculously, no one died in the severe accident. But more than others went to little Frank, who took out the windshield with his face. So already at the age of two, he swayed on his knees at death, having received terrible marks as a keepsake.
Anger, denial, exile
Afterwards, Ribery philosophized: “In a way, that car accident helped me. God gave from childhood this difference from others. Scars are an integral part of me, and people just had to accept Ribery for who I am.” And people accepted. But not immediately. Before the scars on his face became his personal brand, Frank had to endure a lot of bullying, stuffing a myriad of bruises and bumps – himself and others.
Years later, French fans will start producing “Ribery masks” that will sell like hot cakes on Halloween, many times more actively than images of Freddy Krueger, Pennywise the Clown or Frankenstein. The nickname “Scarface” will become the most recognizable in the football world, and in the usual will compete with Al Capone. Ribery will flaunt scars as part of a bright image and flatly refuse plastic surgery to completely remove injuries – with them he is stronger, they will forever become his talisman. They will not interfere with marrying for love, acquiring large advertising contracts, acting in commercials and TV shows. To be a brutal idol as opposed to a glamorous Ronaldo, an aloof Messi, a button-up Lewandowski.
But it will be later. After the fight club of an unkind childhood. At the age of 12, Frank was enrolled in the academy of the reputable Lille. And if the boy’s remarkable talent was obvious, then his behavior and unbridled temper literally shocked the coaches. The boy seemed to have no idea about discipline, frankly spat on his studies. And in addition, he threw himself with his fists and snapped at the square with almost any collision or remark. In this way, Ribery compensated for external shortcomings, small stature, and gaps in primary education. The leadership of the Great Danes Academy tolerated the antics of a negligent pupil for three years. But when he once again broke something for someone, he put a gifted, but uncontrollable buzzer out the door.
Wahiba, Islam, marriage
Not getting into the world of big football from the front door, Ribery made his way to glory through the thorns of the “minors”. I had to play, by the standards of a professional athlete, almost for a penny. In addition, true love inadvertently descended into Frank’s life. The parents of the Muslim woman Wahiba strongly opposed the union of their daughter with a Christian. But how could this stop Ribery? For the sake of personal happiness, he converted to Islam and took the middle name Bilal. Moreover, he claimed that he did it absolutely sincerely and painlessly, since he grew up in an area with a large number of Muslims. Plus, he did not have to break himself through the knee in terms of habits: he does not drink alcohol, practically does not eat meat, and Islam corresponds to his worldview. The wedding took place.
Credits, trenches, match of life
In 2002 Frank is 19 years old. Horizons in dense fog. With a salary in Boulogne of 1.5 thousand euros, he draws up a loan for the purchase of furniture in a rented apartment in the amount of 3 thousand euros. And in order to pay off the bills, through his father he gets a job at a road repair company. For half a year, a football player digs trenches like a damned one and dreams of a cherished chance…
His top track record includes the finals of the World Cup, the Champions League, the club championship of the planet. But it was precisely that game that few people remembered that brought the man with a scar to the star highway – in 2003, to the French Cup, in the form of a provincial “Brest” against the then mighty “Nantes”. “Brest” predictably blew 0:4. However, Ribery did not care much. He was torn from all the tendons, rushed around the field like turpentine, beat, went to the stroke, passed, crawled in tackles – and the next day, clubs of the elite French division lined up for his transfer. Soon he put on a Mets shirt.
Recognition, titles, but not the Golden Ball
Having climbed out of the bottom, Ribéry established himself in the status of a rising star in French and European football in three years. Half a year at Metz, a season at Galatasaray and the first title (Turkish Cup) in his career, a year at Marseille – the winger with reactive speed, phenomenal technique and dribbling, the highest accuracy of passes was argued everywhere. “The pearl of French football” – this is how the great Zinedine Zidane, who will become Ribery’s partner in the French national team, will say about him.
Well, Franck Ribery achieved true world recognition thanks to a happy transition to Bayern – after the silver medal of the 2006 World Cup and for a record amount of 25 million euros for the German grandee at that time. In Germany in general and in Munich in particular, Ribery became an icon. And his personal iconostasis was replenished with the title of the best player in the Bundesliga, 9 titles of the German champion, eight exits to the finals of the Cup of the country, and six of them turned out to be victorious. And also winning the Champions League and the club world championship, plus participation in the form of the French national team in four top tournaments.
It was not possible to paint the sunset of his playing career with bright colors in Italy, where Frank defended the colors of Fiorentina and Salernitana for three seasons due to injuries. They pursued the star throughout their lives. You can’t fool your age…
And yet, the legs that were not shredded by surgeons do not give Frank a feeling of complete happiness. Until now, the player himself, and many fans, experts, journalists consider the failure to present the Ballon d’Or in 2013 to Ribery as the greatest injustice. In that season, the Frenchman was inimitable. He won everything with Bayern on the domestic front, the Champions League, was recognized as the football prima of Europe according to UEFA. And in the poll for the title of the best football player in the world, he incomprehensibly turned out to be only third. The inertia of achievements and the magic of the names of Ronaldo and Messi who rose to their full height worked …
Crime, scandals, prostitute
Franck Ribery is a piece star. It’s hard to imagine him in a tuxedo and bow tie. His fame is not a licked sugary story. His life is a tough action movie. With a train of scandals and black humor. Reckless childhood – still flowers. In Turkey, Frank was “thrown for money”, the director of “Galatasaray” and a sports agent threatened to kill him with a baseball bat, which did not help them win a FIFA trial against the player. In Marseille, Ribery almost became a victim of apartment thieves and street bandits, he drove a tractor around the club stadium. In Munich, he poured water on the famous goalkeeper Oliver Kahn from the roof of the training center, hijacked and smashed the club bus, beat up compatriot journalist Guillaume for criticizing him. There were also in Frank’s life a strike in the national team, a high-profile sex scandal with an underage prostitute Zahia Dehar, which almost ended with a prison term and divorce for the football player. There were skirmishes on the field, removals, disqualifications. Yes, you never know! Ribery always apologized like a man. But he never repented. He’s Scarface, after all. What is.
BATE, Minsk, Gomel
And yes. There were episodes in the biography of Ribery that were directly related to Belarus. Remember July 2012? Then Borisov BATE at the Dynamo stadium played one of the most legendary matches in the history of Belarusian football – it slammed the space Bayern 3:1 in the group stage of the Champions League! The one that then won the League. And that only goal of the Munich team in Minsk was scored by… That’s right – Franck Ribery, in the 91st minute.
By the way, this was not his first visit to the capital of Belarus. A year earlier, Ribery played from bell to bell in Minsk a qualifying match for the European Championship (1:1). Meetings with the Belarusians of the French star successfully continued in the qualifying round for the 2014 World Cup. In 2012, at the Stade de France, he helped the French victory (3:1) with a goal and an effective pass, and a year later, at the Central Gomel, he scored a double, equalizing the score twice (4:2 in favor of France). We saw it! And we remember. As we remember the miracles that this great footballer did on the field.