Franck Ribery was something of a late developer on the world scene, only receiving genuine acclaim after joining Marseille in 2005.
The talent was always there, but stability was missing as he hopped between five clubs in his first five years as a professional.
Now at Bayern Munich, "Scarface" is considered one of the best in the world, a player possessed with trickery, pace and an eye for goal when in advanced positions.
From Club to Club:
Ribery earned his nickname after being involved in a serious accident as a two-year-old. He was in a car with his parents when they collided with a truck and Ribery required over 100 stitches. He was also left with two long scars down the side of his face.
After playing for Conti Boulogne, Lille and US Boulogne as a youngster, the Frenchman turned professional with the latter.
In his only full season with US Boulogne, the club were relegated into the French fourth division, despite five goals in 25 appearances.
A move to Olympique Alès followed, where he scored one goal in 18 appearances, but their relegation to the sixth division resulted in Ribery moving to Stade Brest.
Strong performances from "Scarface" helped earn the club promotion to Ligue 2, but Ribery was on the move again after just one season, joining Metz in 2004.
He won the Player of the Month award in August of that year, but upped sticks after just half a season as he was unable to agree a contract extension with the club.
Ribery initially joined Galatasaray on loan, before making the move permanent. The 2005 Turkish Cup was his first major honor, and Ribery was pivotal, scoring and setting up a goal in a win over fierce rivals Fenerbahce.
Stint at Marseille:
Ribery's penchant for moving clubs continued and he announced he was joining Marseille in June 2005. This move came after he had invoked a Fifa ruling which allowed him to cancel his contract because the Turks had failed to pay him for four months.
The left-winger helped Marseille to the French Cup final in his first season, but could not prevent them going down to defeat against Paris Saint-Germain in the final. He was voted Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year, and although he found goals hard to come by the following season, he did help the club achieve runners-up spot in the league for the first time since 1999.
Ribery also helped the southern club back to the cup final, but they were surprisingly beaten on penalties by Sochaux after a 2-2 draw.
There had been much speculation over the player's future the previous summer, with Arsenal and Real Madrid both keen on signing the international. The summer of 2007 did see him make the move away from the Stade Velodrome as he opted for free-spending Bayern Munich.
A Move to the Bundesliga:
Ribery hit 14 goals in all competitions in his first season in Bavaria as Bayern won the league and cup double. His performances and goals won him the 2007-08 German Footballer of the Year award.
This expensively assembled team included the likes of Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose who had moved to Bayern as the club looked to recover from a season of underachievement.
Bayern ended the 2008-09 season trophy-less as Wolfsburg won the league title, but Ribery still managed 14 goals domestically and in Europe.
The 2009-10 season was bittersweet as he struggled with tendonitis in his left knee and was on the sidelines for several months. Once back in action he helped Bayern to the Bundesliga title and the Champions League final. He scored a crucial equalizing goal in the quarter-final first-leg against Manchester United, but was sent-off in the semi-final first-leg at home to Lyon after a bad foul on Lisandro Lopez. He was duly given a three match ban and did not play in the final.
Ribery made his debut for France in a friendly against Mexico shortly before the 2006 World Cup. He was included in the finals squad, and started six of the seven matches as Les Bleus reached the final in Germany, only to be beaten by Italy on penalties.
“Scarface” was on target in the second-round win over Spain, as he received the ball from Patrick Vieira and rounded Iker Casillas.
Euro 2008 holds few fond memories for Ribery as France were eliminated in the group stages, with the player rupturing a ligament in his left ankle against Italy in the final group match.
Ribery was at the center of France’s 2010 World Cup debacle where Les Bleus exited the tournament at the group stages without a win.
With rumors of infighting almost a daily occurrence in South Africa, Ribery was accused, alongside Nicolas Anelka, of ‘freezing out’ teammate Yoann Gourcuff. He also received a three-match ban in August 2010 for his part in the infamous team strike.