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Ribéry retains best French player accolade

Christmas will metaphorically come early for Franck Ribéry this year. On 14 December, the day after Bayern’s trip to VfB Stuttgart in the last fixture before the winter break, the midfielder will travel to Paris to be formally named French Player of the Year 2008, the second year in succession the 25-year-old has claimed the prestigious accolade. The FCB star finished comfortably ahead of Olympique Lyon marksman Karim Benzema in the annual poll organised by respected journal France Football.

“I’m delighted at winning this trophy again,” Ribéry declared two days ahead of Munich’s trip to Lyon and a head-to-head with his France team-mate Benzema. “The accolade matters to me, especially as a Frenchman playing abroad. It shows I’m playing well, I’m in good physical shape, and also that I’m settled in Munich.” The French Player of the Year is selected by former winners of the award, including the likes of Michel Platini, Didier Deschamps, Thierry Henry and Zinedine Zidane.

Praise from Zidane

“He’s just terrific, outstanding,” all-time great Zidane said of Ribery last week. “He catches the eye with everything he does. It’s not just that he scores goals, he helps everyone around him look good. His generosity and sense of giving, on and off the field, make him so good.” Zidane feels the Bayern man “deserved much better” than 16th spot in a recent poll for European Player of the Year.

“I’m flattered by what Zizou had to say. He was a fantastic player, and that’s what he is as a person,” Ribéry responded. Bayern boss Jürgen Klinsmann shared the player’s delight at retaining the honour. “Despite the high-quality competition in his home nation, Franck has succeeded in winning the award again, and we’re proud of that at Bayern. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have him at our club,” Klinsmann told