Created on 29-08-2013 at 08:30 AM
Franck Ribéry could not have chosen a better travelling companion when he flew to Monaco this Thursday, 29 August 2013. The Frenchman was accompanied by FCB chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who was twice named European Footballer of the Year in 1980 and 1981. Ribéry could win the successor award for the first time this evening. “I'd like to see him deservedly named European Player of the Year," commented Rummenigge, “he has extra class, and it would be good if that was recognised all over Europe and not just in Germany."
Prior to the Champions League group stage draw, at precisely 6.54 pm CET according to the official schedule, UEFA will announce the result of a live vote taken by a jury of 53 journalists representing all the governing body’s member associations. The shortlist comprises Ribéry, five-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi of Barcelona, and Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo. Last year's award went to Barça schemer Andrés Iniesta.
“I'd like Franck to win it. He had a very, very good season and we won lots of trophies, which must give him an edge over the other two," commented Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was seventh in the preliminary list of candidates.
On a par with rivals
But what of Ribéry himself? Speaking to kicker magazine, the 30-year-old made no secret of how much the accolade would mean to him personally. “It's an award I’ve dreamed of for a long time," he said, “I've been playing at a very high level for two years. Especially last season, I played very, very well and won major trophies, so why shouldn't it happen? Just like the other two, I would certainly somehow deserve the award."
In 2012/13, Ribéry won everything there was to win as Bayern recorded a historic treble. Messi scored an incredible 46 league goals as Barcelona cruised to the Spanish title, although the Catalans were crushed by Ribéry and FCB in the Champions League semi-finals. Ronaldo missed out on silverware last term, but finished top scorer in the Champions League on 12 goals. “The only difference is the goals, but as a player he’s on the same level," said Pep Guardiola of his left winger.
Ribéry would be the fourth Munich man to be named European Footballer of the Year, which was first bestowed in 1956 and is now officially known as UEFA Best Player in Europe. Apart from Rummenigge, Gerd Müller won the award in 1970, and Franz Beckenbauer in 1972 and 1976. The last German winner of the award was Matthias Sammer in 1996, and the last Bundesliga player to make it onto the shortlist was Oliver Kahn in 2001 and 2002.