Franck Ribery’s younger brother Steeven once played for Bayern Munich’s reserves. Although he flashed his talent in Munich, he offended his colleagues. An extremely unsuccessful football trip across Europe followed.
When Erik ten Hag resigned as a reserve coach at Bayern Munich in 2015, he was asked to make a prediction: Which of his players would succeed in a professional career? “Rico Strieder and Lukas Görtler can do it,” said ten Hag at the time transfermarkt.de. Both confirmed their coach by having notable careers in the Netherlands and Switzerland.
As a third candidate, ten Hag, now under contract with Manchester United, named Steeven Ribery, the then 19-year-old brother of club icon Franck: “He has great potential. I think he can play professional football.” Steeven Ribery is now 26 years old – and plays for the French amateur club US La Charite. His career probably didn’t fail because of talent, but rather because of mentality.
Like Franck, Steeven was born in the northern French city of Boulogne-sur-Mer on the English Channel, and later went through the academy of the nearby traditional club RC Lens. In January 2014 he finally followed his brother Franck, who was eight years his senior, to FC Bayern. The middle brother Francois had already ended his unspectacular football career at this point. He had not progressed beyond the French third division.
Steeven Ribery’s time at Bayern Munich
Steeven Ribery spent the spring of 2014 primarily with FC Bayern’s A-Jugend before he then played two seasons for the reserves in the Regionalliga Bayern. The first under ten Hag was promising with 13 points in 27 league games. Ribery was used on the ten and the wings, sometimes shone there with his technical skills – like a celebrated side kick goal against VfR Garching. As spectacular as he played offensively, he was careless defensively.
“Technically he was good, but he didn’t do anything against the ball,” recalled his then teammate Rico Strieder in an interview with SPOX and GOAL. However, that wasn’t the only reason why he caused offense in the team. “When things went badly, he got overemotional very quickly,” says Strieder: “He thought he could behave like his brother. Steeven was pretty aloof, let the king hang out. There were a few incidents with teammates and coaches , who didn’t sound like it. Franck had to regularly influence his brother and make sure that he pulled himself together.”
The relationship between the two was close, during his first months in Munich Steeven even lived in his older brother’s house. He was also allowed to use his service Audi, with which he was once involved in an accident as a friend’s passenger. The fault lay with the opposing Porsche driver, the property damage amounted to 100,000 euros.
As is the case in such cases, Steeven was regularly compared to his much more successful brother in sporting terms. “We worked on him developing his own identity,” explained ten Hag. “He must be Steeven Ribery – not Franck Ribery’s brother.” As Steeven Ribery, however, he did not make it to the pros, after a pale second season in the reserves under coach Heiko Vogel, he left Bayern.
Steeven Ribery’s unsuccessful football trip through Europe
It was the beginning of an unsuccessful football journey across Europe. First, Steeven Ribery returned home to the fourth-rate youth club of his brother US Boulogne. There followed an interlude with seven appearances at the second division club GFC Ajaccio in Corsica, after which he was without a club.
In the summer of 2018, he tried his hand at Apollon Larissa in Greece for around two weeks, until their coach Marcello Troisi sent him away again after just one friendly game. “He has a lot of quality and should be the star of our team, but he was twelve kilos overweight,” Troisi said at the time UOL Esports. There were also communication problems: “He couldn’t even say ‘Hi’ in English. Communication was very difficult.”
An alleged interest from the Australian A-League and a trial with the Israeli first division club Hapoel Hadera also ended without a contract being signed. After six months without a club, Ribery finally signed with Swedish second division club FC Syrianska in January 2019. The adventure lasted half a year, five games and a yellow card. He was then traded with the Mexican club Toluca, until those responsible firmly denied the rumours. Then: without a club, FK Jelgava in Latvia, without a club – and since 2021 at the amateur club US La Charite.
While Steeven Ribery’s dream of a professional career is probably over, the next Ribery is working on it at Bayern: Seif, now ten years old, has been playing in the youth department since 2020. Papa Franck led US Salernitana at the age of 39 as captain to a sensational relegation in the Italian Serie A – and says he hopes to return to Bayern after his playing career.