Munich - With the 2014 FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony fast approaching and numerous world football heavyweights backing a German winner, it comes as no surprise that the topic is still one of a sensitive variety for FC Bayern München’s Franck Ribery.
Rewind a year and the Frenchman was at the peak of his playing powers having provided the driving force behind the record titleholders’ historic league, cup and UEFA Champions League treble, only to be denied a deserved individual award of great prestige.
It was a January evening in Zürich during which the now 31-year-old “learned a lot”, as Cristiano Ronaldo was crowned the world’s best player. It was recognition of an unparalleled goalscoring record over Ribery’s incomparable contribution to the most dominant side to grace the European stage since Pep Guardiola’s FC Barcelona, whom Bayern dispatched of with ease in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals that same calendar year.
“The Golden Ball for the best player? I don’t believe that any more,” claimed the Boulogne-sur-Mer native in a remarkably frank interview with German sports publication SPORT BILD earlier this week. “In 2006 [Italy captain Fabio] Cannavaro won - because he was a world champion, that's all. I am not jealous; this title means nothing to me today. I’m just pleased with what I have in Munich.”
“I fear there are a lot of politics”
The statement comes in stark contrast to 12 months previous when the playful winger admitted he was “always thinking about it [the Ballon d’Or award] during games”. Speaking exclusively to bundesliga.com at the beginning of 2014 after finishing third in the voting behind both Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Ribery made no qualms with the fact “it hurt a lot to begin with considering I had won everything with FC Bayern. However, the subject has been put to bed in my eyes.”
That being said, the Frenchman has chipped in with his opinion as to who should receive the honour for their achievements in 2014. “What can I say? For me, Manuel Neuer or Arjen Robben have to win it, there’s not two ways about it,” said Bayern’s joker in the pack. “Manu has won everything and is a good person, not arrogant. Arjen played unbelievably last Bundesliga season and after that had an excellent World Cup. But I fear that there are still a lot of politics.”
It remains to be seen whether Ribery’s former FC Bayern head coach Louis van Gaal or legendary compatriot Michel Platini, both of whom have claimed that a German player “deserves” to be recognised, will be proven correct on 12 January 2015. However, in no uncertain terms, were one of Germany’s World Cup winning stars to be overlooked, it would be another tragedy of epic proportions of which Ribery is all too familiar with.