- Bayern are FIFA Club World Cup champions
- Bavarian outfit have six French players in their ranks
- We take a closer look at the club’s enduring French connection
Bayern Munich’s love affair with French players dates back to the mid-90s with the arrival of Jean-Pierre Papin. Nascent Franco-Bavarian ties were further strengthened during the 2000s, when Bixente Lizarazu, Willy Sagnol and Franck Ribery all followed in his footsteps.
Today, the relationship is at its zenith with no fewer than six Frenchmen plying their trade for the European champions.
On 11 February, the club’s Gallic flair was again in evidence in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020™. The UEFA Champions League winners saw off the challenge of Mexico’s Tigres UNAL with a goal from Benjamin Pavard, just one of five Franzosens on the Bavarians' team sheet. Bayern appear to be in seventh heaven with their Bleus, as these stats can attest.
Not content with picking winner’s medals at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, Frenchmen Corentin Tolisso, Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard can now add the title of club world champions to their resumes. That means the trio are current holders of seven titles, having also tasted success in the 2020 editions of the UEFA Champions League, Bundesliga, DFB Cup, UEFA Super Cup and DFL Supercup.
The record number of Frenchmen who have lined up for Bayern in this season’s Bundesliga. And while Michael Cuisance, who took part in their opening game against Schalke, subsequently moved to Marseille, that still leaves in order of arrival at the club: Kingsley Coman(2015),Corentin Tolisso (2017),Benjamin Pavard (2019), Lucas Hernandez (2019), Tanguy Kouassi (2020) and Bouna Sarr (2020).
In scoring the only goal of the Qatar 2020 final, Benjamin Pavard became the seventh French player to register a goal in this competition, after Nicolas Anelka, Jonathan Biabiany, Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema, Bafetimbi Gomis and Andre-Pierre Gignac.
Franck Ribery's shirt number at Bayern. He spent 12 years there and won nine league titles, setting a new record for a foreign player. A veritable club icon after racking up 119 goals and 185 assists in 425 games, the Boulogne native was even given a nickname steeped in Bayern history: Kaiser Franck – a reference to the legendary Bayern and West Germany defender Franz Beckenbauer.
The number of goals scored for the club by Bixente Lizarazu, another Bayern legend. The left-back enjoyed his best years in Bavaria, where he won absolutely everything. He stayed there for eight seasons in all, as did compatriot Willy Sagnol, another wingback and Bayern favourite. Such was the precision of Sagnol’s deliveries from out wide that he earned the nickname Flankengott, meaning ‘god of the crosses’.
Bayern, like all German clubs, love the French. The club comes to recruit youngsters because they’re complete players, particularly in terms of tactical awareness, reading of the game, and individual technique. The French sometimes take time to adapt because there’s a rigour and discipline here that’s light years from what the norm is with us. But once they become au fait with that, the guys have fun. Then there’s a very special sense of belonging with this club. It’s like a family.
The number of matches played in his maiden season by the first Frenchman to join the Bavarian club: Jean-Pierre Papin. A modest total unquestionably, but the striker had more than his share of injuries during this time. That said, JPP will always be the one who paved the way for his compatriots – 13 others to date – to don the famous red jersey.
The number of years that Valerien Ismael had to wait to become a naturalised German. Ignored by the France national team, he made the request in 2006 in the hope of participating in that year’s World Cup for Die Mannschaft. It was not to be, however. The former Bayern defender, who scored two goals in 46 appearances between 2005 and 2007, finally obtained German citizenship in 2013.
For a long time, the club knew how to integrate South American players but not other nationalities. But nowadays, everyone thinks that the French are reliable. Lizarazu and Sagnol were the ones who started the love affair. If a player as emotional as Ribery could thrive there, it is because this club is a family. It’s perfect for a French footballing colony.