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Great honour

Ribéry named Player of the Year in France

The year 2007 reached a crowning glory for Franck Ribéry on Sunday in Paris when the Bayern midfielder accepted the French Player of the Year award for the first time. The 24-year-old topped an annual poll organised by leading journal France Football with 126 points, well ahead of Barcelona striker Thierry Henry (76) and Karim Benzema of Olympique Lyon (63).

“I’m delighted at receiving the award,“ Ribéry commented, “it’s even more flattering because I’ve been chosen by such tremendous former winners.“ The Player of the Year accolade in France is decided exclusively by a poll of previous title holders, in this case including Michel Platini, Zinedine Zidane, Didier Deschamps and Henry, winner for the past four years.

Surpassing expectations

“In my opinion, this is a very important award,“ remarked Ribéry, seeing the honour as confirmation of his continuing development as a player. “It shows I’m heading in the right direction.“ Asked to name the most important phases in his career to date, Ribéry cited two seasons at Olympique Marseille and last summer’s switch to Bayern. “My arrival at Bayern surpassed all expectations,“ he opined.

The France international is now keen to add team silverware to his medal collection, preferably in the coming twelve months. “There are a lot of possibilities next year, with Bayern in the championship, the German Cup and the UEFA Cup, and with France at the European championship. With a bit of luck, it could be a great year.“

Recognition from Hitzfeld

Ribéry’s first few months at Bayern initially featured three goals as the Reds claimed the pre-season League Cup, before he contributed four goals and three assists in the Bundesliga. Munich supporters have twice named him Bayern Player of the Month, in August and November.

“He’s been the star of the first half of the season, and not just here at the club,” enthused head coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, “very, very well done to him. I hope the award inspires him to do his best in our last match against Aris.“