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How did Franck Ribery get his permanent scar?

Rohit Menon
111.88K   //    21 Aug 2015, 21:00 IST
Franck Ribery scar
Franck Ribery has had a successful club career with Bayern Munich

Scars are seen by many as a reminder of unfortunate incidents that have taken place in the past. They show the pain and suffering endured by a person but also symbolize something big – the will to overcome any of life’s hurdles and move on. 

This holds true in the case of current Bayern Munich midfielder Franck Ribery, who is a strong role model for young footballers everywhere. The 33-year-old is a right-footed forward whose primary position is on the left wing, and is very well-known for his impressive attacking attributes. His dribbling skills, tricks and pace rival those of the best players in the world, although he is easily distinguishable from all of them due to the presence of a huge scar on the right side of his face.

Ribery picked up the scar when he and his family were involved in a car accident in his hometown of Boulogne-sur-Mer in France. The Frenchman was just an infant when he sustained a wound on his face which required almost 100 stitches, after the car he was travelling in collided with a lorry. He was in the back seat at the time of the accident and wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, which sent him crashing through the vehicle’s windshield.

The former Marseille player has spoken about the scars on his face in many interviews ever since he burst onto the scene. In one of the interviews he commented on the accident while recollecting memories about it, and went on to admit that the unfortunate incident motivated him as a child. The quote was published in Simon Kuper’s 2011 book The Football Men: Up Close with the Giants of the Modern Game.

“The problem was that I was sitting in the back and I went flying forward on impact. In a certain way this accident helped me. As a child, it motivated me.”

“God gave me this difference. The scars are part of me, and people will just have to take me the way I am.”

Despite making it as a professional football player at the highest level and earning plenty of money doing it, Ribery has not received any cosmetic surgery to try and conceal the scar. He is proud of it and doesn’t want to change a thing about his face, as he feels that the mark reminds him of the experience that has made him the man he is today.

He freely admitted that growing up with such a prominent scar was difficult, and spoke about it in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. 

“I’m proud of my scar. It gave me strength and forged my character. You have to be mentally strong to withstand the ridicule of other children and the stares of adults.”

“So here I am. This is my face, it is the one people know me be. I am happy with my face. Why shouldn’t I be happy?”

Ribery’s personal life and career

The Frenchman signed his first professional contract with Boulogne in 2000 after spending his youth career with them, as well as Conti Boulogne and Lille. Between 2002 and 2005, he had stints at several French clubs such as Ales, Stade Brestois, Metz before earning a small spell at Turkish club Galatasaray. His time at Marseille from 2005-2007 saw him impress for the first time in the Ligue 1, as he scored 11 goals in 60 league appearances. 

Following his efforts at Marseille, Ribery moved to Bayern Munich on a four-year deal for €25 million. The fee was a club record at the time for the Bundesliga giants, who were excited to have one of the brightest prospects in world football.

The short-statured dribbler’s style of play and efficiency saw him receive rave reviews from some of football’s greatest players. Zinedine Zidane called Ribery the ‘jewel of French soccer’, while Henry publicly praised Ribery as a role model for the younger generation. His efforts were also commended by Franz Beckenbauer after Bayern Munich’s treble in the 2012/13 season, who said: “For me, he’s up there with Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo as one of the best players in the world.” The crown of 2012/13 UEFA Best Player in Europe ended Ribery’s season on a high, as he racked up 10 goals in 43 appearances and led the assists charts with 15.

Ribery Best Player Europe
Ribery beat Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Best Player in Europe award in 2013

Ribery has scored 104 goals in 299 appearances for the Bavarian club, winning the Bundesliga on five occasions and the UEFA Champions League once, in 2012/13. He has also won four German Cup competitions, the 2013 UEFA Super Cup and the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup, which make for a fantastic medal collection. A French international, he has represented the national side at two FIFA World Cups and two UEFA European Championships, making 81 appearances and scoring 16 times. 

Ribery is known to be a very forthright and mischievous character, consistently pulling off wild and elaborate pranks on his teammates. He adopted the name of Bilal Yusuf Mohammed after converting to Islam in 2006, although he’s still commonly referred to as Franck Ribery by the media and everyone in the football community. He married Wahiba in 2004, and has three children from his marriage.

All of which just goes to show that a facial scar does nothing to diminish the image of a man who is dedicated to his craft and humble about his origins. Ribery is a certified star, scar or no scar!

Here is a throwback to a video from 2013, which shows Ribery indulging in a prank with complete strangers!

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Rohit Menon
Gooner. Football enthusiast. Dreamer.
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