From Thierry Henry to Franck Ribery, not forgetting Jerome Rothen, Hatem Ben Arfa and Robert Pires; pretenders to France’s left flank have certainly not been lacking over the last few years. But the player who has truly made the position his own is Florent Malouda, a traditional left winger who offers a devastating blend of speed, technique, power, crossing accuracy and goals. A tireless runner, Malouda is just as valuable in defence as he is in attack.
A product of Chateauroux’s academy, Malouda’s development in recent years has been remarkable, a progression that culminated with an appearance in the FIFA World Cup™ Final in 2006. He began his life as a professional footballer with Guingamp in Ligue 1, where he developed an explosive partnership with Didier Drogba. A move to Lyon earned him 4 French league titles, 30 goals and the title of Ligue 1 player of the year in 2007. Joining up with Drogba again at Chelsea, he has since become a key man for club and country, described as “a very important player” by Carlo Ancelotti, and “irreplaceable” by the Italian’s predecessor at Chelsea, Luiz Felipe Scolari.
It was while playing for Lyon in 2004 that he was first selected to play for France. Surrounded by numerous club colleagues in the national team, Malouda quickly found his feet, establishing himself as an automatic first choice on the left up until the defeat to Italy at Germany 2006, during which he won the penalty that led to France’s goal, scored by Zinedine Zidane. He was also heavily involved at UEFA Euro 2008, but the disappointment of not making it through the group stages in Austria/Switzerland, some clumsily-worded comments in the press and the repositioning of Henry on the left are all factors that combined to limit his international appearances during the recent qualifying campaign for South Africa 2010.