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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Franck "Bilal" Ribéry (born April1, 1983, in) is a French football player who currently plays for Olympique Marseille either as an attacking midfielder or a left- or right-sided winger, and recently has been touted by the media as the successor to the French national team talisman Zidane, due to his increasingly impressive performances.

Ribery started his playing career at his home town club and moved to Alès, before Brest and Metz signed him in consecutive seasons. His loan to Galatasaray marked the inevitable move to another club at the end of the 2004-05 season, and with the move to Olympique Marseille he looks to have finally settled into a team. His stellar play with the
Olympique Marseille has earned him top French player honors for the months of August, October and November 2005.

On June 12, 2006, he was named in the starting lineup of the French team for their opener in the 2006 FIFA World Cup against Switzerland. His first international goal proved to be a crucial one, levelling France at 1-1 with Spain in the 41st minute of their knockout round match after calmly rounding the Spanish keeper, Though Spain were the favourites, France went on to win that game 3-1 to book a quarter-final slot against Brazil.
Upon facing Brazil, Ribéry was substituted in the 75th minute of the 1-0 victory following an impressive performance.He also played in the World Cup final defeat to Italy where he went close with a low shot in the first half of extra-time.

Ribéry is a Muslim, having converted to Islam around the time he married his Muslim fiance Wahiba Belhami who is of Algerian descent. Ribéry has adopted the Arabic name Bilal.