Bayern Munich star Franck Ribery has told Sport Bild it is “a shame” that the Ballon d’Or vote was delayed but remains positive about his chances.
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France international Ribery was thought to be the leading candidate for the 2013 award after helping Bayern to success in the Champions League, Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal last season, but FIFA’s decision to delay voting -- which allowed the World Cup playoffs to be taken into consideration -- is thought to have boosted Real Madrid and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo’s hopes.
Bayern president Uli Hoeness told tz he was “disturbed” by FIFA’s decision and plans to investigate the vote due to concerns as to whether it was “democratic.”
Ribery, already named the 2012-13 UEFA Best Player in Europe, agrees that the deadline change has hindered his chances but he remains hopeful of clinching the prize.
He said: “That is a disadvantage, but I don’t fear the vote. I am calm. I will travel to Zurich on Jan. 13 with a good feeling.”
He described being named alongside Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on the three-man shortlist as “an honour,” and believes he bears comparison with the Argentina international.
The 30-year-old said he and Bayern coach Pep Guardiola had “indeed talked a lot about Messi and his game.”
He added: “[Guardiola] gives me complete freedom. I can move into the middle, to the left, to the right. Pep Guardiola says: ‘The important thing is that you have possession of the ball.’ Just looking at our profiles, Messi and I are certainly a bit similar.”
The winger also confirmed reports that former Barcelona boss Guardiola had wanted to take him to the Camp Nou in 2010.
In March that year, Ribery -- linked with both Barca and Real Madrid -- had been quoted as saying: “If I decide not to accept Bayern's offer of an extension then I'll certainly be going to Spain.”
However, Ribery now calls 2010 “the worst year of [his] career,” after he was suspended for the Champions League final defeat to Inter Milan and then the World Cup campaign with France descended into turmoil.
He ultimately decided to extend his Bayern deal, and he has now said: “The club always believed in me. At that time, many people in France and all over the world said: ‘That’s it. Ribery is finished. He will never come back.’”
Thierry Henry, meanwhile, believes Ribery’s revival deserves to be rewarded with the Ballon d’Or.
Henry, who was also part of the France squad at the 2010 World Cup, has been vocal in his support of Ribery to become the first French player to pick up the award since Zinedine Zidane in 1998.
After telling British TV earlier this week that he hoped his compatriot would pip Ronaldo and Messi to the award, the former Arsenal and Barcelona forward issued a press release reaffirming his support for his compatriot.
"Thierry Henry gives his unconditional support to Franck Ribery's candidacy for the 2013 Ballon d'Or," the statement read. "Thierry Henry thinks Franck Ribery is a great player: a player of a very new and particular genre. A player who is generous on the pitch and who gives you the desire to play. It seems to him that the candidacy of the Bayern Munich playmaker has been underestimated in comparison to the other two players selected, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo."
Henry, now of New York Red Bulls, was second in the vote for the Ballon d’Or in 2003 and finished third three years later.