Franck Ribery brought an end to his France career on Wednesday, joining the likes of Philip Lahm, Steven Gerrard, Didier Drogba, Xavi and Miroslav Klose in retiring from the international game this summer. "I want to dedicate more time to my family," he told German sports magazine Kicker. "You've got to know when you should retire. I've experienced a lot and now is the time for others to come to the fore, and you could see at the World Cup that we don't need to have any worries about France's future."
First called up by Raymond Domenech in his 23-man squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, Ribery made his France debut in a 1-0 warm-up victory against Mexico ahead of the tournament. The first of his 16 goals for Les Bleus then followed a month later, when he found the net against Spain in the Round of 16.
France quickly came to depend on his extravagant gifts, and he returned to the World Cup stage in South Africa before maintaining his first-team status under Domenech's successor, Laurent Blanc. Didier Deschamps then took over the reins in 2012 and built his team around Ribery, until a back injury robbed the winger of a place at Brazil 2014.
"There were ups and downs, but now is the time for a new part of my life," explained the iconic France No7. FIFA.com now reflects on the seven moments that defined Ribery's international career.
27 May 2006: France 1-0 Mexico (friendly)
Voted best young player in Ligue 1 for his exploits with Marseille in 2005/06, Franck Ribery was rewarded with a trip to Germany as Raymond Domenech included the youngster in France's squad for the World Cup. Little over a week later, on 27 May 2006, the Boulogne native won his maiden cap for Les Bleus, beginning his international adventure in a warm-up match against Mexico. Given a rousing reception by supporters, Ribery came on for David Trezeguet with 75 minutes gone and announced his potential with a few trademark dribbles.
27 June 2006: France 3-1 Spain 2006 (2006 World Cup, Round of 16)
France fell in love with the young dynamo a month later as Domenech's men faced Spain in the Round of 16. La Roja took the lead after 28 minutes, but their opponents began their fightback when Ribery played a one-two with Patrick Vieira and found himself through on Iker Casillas's goal. Knocking the ball wide of the Spain goalkeeper, Ribery then steered a shot goalwards as Mariano Pernia and Carles Puyol raced back to clear. The whole of France feared they would get there first, but the ball eluded their desperate lunges – and, to this day, that remains the Ribery goal most cherished by fans of Les Bleus. Suddenly, France were back in the match as they continued their charge to the Final.
20 June 2010: the Knysna affair
Joint captain along with Patrice Evra at South Africa 2010, Ribery experienced his darkest day with France on 20 June that year. After forward Nicolas Anelka had been sent home from the tournament, Ribery took part in a strike by the players, who refused to train ahead of their third and final group game against the hosts. Identified as one of the ringleaders of the boycott, Ribery was later suspended for three matches by the French Football Federation.
27 May 2012: France 3-2 Iceland (friendly)
After three years without a goal for his country, Ribery ended his barren spell in a preparation game in the lead-up to UEFA EURO 2012, lobbing the ball into the net following a one-two with Olivier Giroud. Four days later, he rattled in his ninth strike for Les Bleus in a 2-0 success against Serbia, before bringing up double figures in another warm-up friendly on 5 June 2012, helping his side down Estonia 4-0.
10 September 2013, Belarus 2-4 France (qualifying match for Brazil 2014)
A run of five games without victory left France's qualification campaign for Brazil 2014 in worrying shape, and they needed a win against Belarus to sew up a play-off berth. That meant ending a run of over 500 minutes without a goal, and it was Ribery who rode to the rescue after shaking off a gluteal injury. His pace, prompting and trickery powered his team forward, and the Bayern Munich man won and converted a penalty before turning in a cross from Mathieu Valbuena to level for a second time on 64 minutes. Ribery's first double for his country helped France rediscover their winning ways and put them back on course for Brazil.
15 October 2013, France 3-0 Finland (qualifying match for Brazil 2014)
Ribery was in grand form at the Stade de France as Les Bleus contested their final qualifier in Group I, scoring his finest – and final – goal on the international stage. Picking up the ball on the left, he cut inside, dribbled free of his marker and sent a vicious shot, measured at 90km/h, past Finland goalkeeper Niki Maenpaa and in off the crossbar. "That's my greatest goal for France and one of my greatest since I started playing football," he stated afterwards, having also weighed in with assists for Olivier Giroud and Karim Benzema.
19 November 2013: France 3-0 Ukraine (play-offs for Brazil 2014)
France went into their play-off decider against Ukraine with their backs to the wall, but Ribery rose to the occasion with the performance of a man at the peak of his powers. Hugely influential, he was involved in both of Mamadou Sakho's goals and brought about the sending-off of Ukraine's Yevhen Khacheridi. Ribery's superb display was the high point of an exceptional year, which also earned him a nomination for the 2013 FIFA Ballon d'Or award. In contrast, 2014 has proved something of an anti-climax so far, with Kaiser Franck suffering from injuries and a dip in form, while his final cap came in a 2-0 friendly win against the Netherlands in March.