Former Arsenal forward Thierry Henry believes Franck Ribery deserved to win the Ballon d'Or ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 36-year-old Frenchman, currently playing in the MLS for New York Red Bulls, admitted he was disappointed for the Bayern Munich star, who finished third in the Ballon d'Or race behind Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, and feels that Ribery deserved the award for his achievements with Bayern in 2013.
"Ribery deserved it," said Henry, speaking at the launch of PUMA's new evoPOWER football boots. "It's as simple as that. Not because he’s French or anything else, although obviously being French does help, but because he deserved it.
"I was disappointed for him and I was disappointed for French football because for a very long time now apart from Zizou (Zinedine Zidane) and Michel Platini and guys in the past we didn’t have any guys that won it. I really thought Franck was going to win it, not only because he’s a good player but also because of what he’s won."
Henry, who won 123 caps for France and is Arsenal's all-time leading goalscorer, questioned the decision not to award his former national team-mate Ribery the accolade, opining that what a player goes on to achieve with his team should have a major bearing on who wins the prestigious trophy.
"We’ve been told that it’s only for individual achievements but for me it’s kind of weird because that kills the spirit of football, if you know what I mean. You have to perform well but perform well with a team that wins, for me. And I thought that Franck did that. He performed well in a team that won everything."
Henry, who has played for Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal and Barcelona in an illustrious career that has seen him win World Cup, European Championship, Champions League, Premier League and La Liga titles, also conceded Ronaldo was a worthy winner, and challenged Ribery to prove himself all over again with a strong showing in Brazil this summer to ensure he's in contention again this time next year.
"You also have to be honest I guess: Cristiano Ronaldo is a worthy winner. Leo Messi would have been a worthy winner. But in my opinion - we all have one, right – I thought that this year Franck Ribery was the best.
"I hope that won’t slow his progression and what he’s been doing. He’s been amazing for us in France with the national team and he’s been doing some great stuff with Bayern for a very long time now. We knew about him since the Metz time and Marseille time. We knew the guy had talent but what he’s been doing at the moment is amazing. He was so important for Bayern. For me that was Franck’s year.
"Hopefully he can come back stronger, perform well at the World Cup and win everything with Bayern and come back and make sure he can win it."
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