Zurich – “I've got no comment to make at the moment, and with no exceptions,” told the assembled press around quarter to nine on Monday evening, before swiftly taking his leave of Zurich's Kongresshaus in the company of FC Bayern München chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge for the drive back to the Bavarian capital.
Ribery: "Don't think I could have done any better”
The French attacking midfielder's disappointment was understandable. He had gone into the 2013 FIFA Ballon d'Or awards ceremony a few hours before with high hopes of being crowned the world's best player. Instead, he unexpectedly finished bottom of the three-man shortlist, behind not only the victorious Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF, but also FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi.
On Saturday, Ribery had said he was “very optimistic about my chances of winning. I've achieved more than my rivals.” That has been undeniably true over the past twelve months, with FC Bayern sweeping all before them in the Bundesliga, UEFA Champions League and DFB Cup last season, before adding the UEFA Super Cup and to their bulging trophy cabinet in the opening half of 2013/14.
For good measure, the 30-year-old wing wizard was also named 2012/13 UEFA Best Player in Europe at the end of August. As he pointed out more than once at Bayern's recent winter training camp in Doha, “I don't think I could have done any better. I've won everything, with the team and individually. What else can I do?”
Neuer “Proud of Franck”
Team captain Philipp Lahm found it “a real pity for Franck. I voted for him – it would have been a great thing for us, the club and the fans. But that's football. Personally, I think it's a shame, I'd have liked to see Franck take the crown. I had a chat with him, but he wasn't hugely disappointed and I don't think we'll be needing to cheer him up over the next few days. He loves football and really enjoys playing for Bayern. So it won't be a big issue, even if he did have a massive opportunity this year after winning just about everything.”
Germany no1 Manuel Neuer, the third Bayern player alongside Ribery and Lahm to make the FIFPro World XI, was likewise “proud of Franck, even if he didn't make this particular goal. He would have deserved it, but it's certainly not going to get him down.”
Positive spin from van Buyten
For Ribery's national team boss Didier Deschamps, “He lost out because the vote was put back from 15 to 29 November (in the interim Ronaldo scored a play-off hat-trick in Sweden to book Portugal's ticket to this summer's FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil, ed.). It's a bitter disappointment for him, he had a real chance to realise a dream. Hopefully he'll be able to make his own response straight away out on the pitch for FC Bayern. He's a battler, as he's demonstrated throughout his career. But there are more great challenges ahead for him in 2014.”
The player himself struck a similar note last week, saying, “Life will go on as normal one way or the other. I've always got back on my feet and worked even harder after a setback and it won't be any different this time. As far as his colleague and friend Daniel van Buyten is concerned, “it's actually good that the whole business is over now. The pressure's off and he'll be able to play freely, without that distraction. It's important for us to get back to preparing in peace.”
Alexis Menuge/Angus Davison