Brought up through the ranks of minnows Lyon-Duchere, Eric Abidal began his professional career with Monaco in 2000. The centre-back first truly came to the fore a long way from the principality, however, during a loan spell with Lille in 2002/03, where he was reunited with former Monaco coach Claude Puel. Abidal’s displays in northern France marked him out as one of the most reliable and consistent defenders in Ligue 1 and he was quickly snapped up by Lyon.
Back in his native region, Abidal thrived with Les Gones and soon captured the attention of Les Bleus coach Raymond Domenech, who gave him his international debut against Bosnia-Herzegovina on 18 August 2004. He slotted in seamlessly at the back for Lyon and clinched consecutive league titles in 2005, 2006 and 2007, though like the rest of his team failed to make the step up on the European stage. That all changed when he signed for Barcelona in 2007, and during the 2008/09 campaign he became a regular starter at left-back as Josep Guardiola’s unstoppable side lifted six trophies, including the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Abidal’s international career has so far contained fewer highs, though he did start six of France’s seven matches at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ and converted his penalty against Italy in the Final, only failing to make the first XI against Togo due to suspension. UEFA EURO 2008 proved a less fulfilling experience, on the other hand, as Abidal saw red during France’s last group game against Italy and watched from the sidelines as his team exited the tournament at the first hurdle. Undiscouraged, the solid defender retained the trust of his coach and was again a defensive stalwart for Les Bleus during South Africa 2010 qualifying.