Eric Abidal joined Barça in the 2007/08 season to replace Dutch international Giovanni van Bronckhorst. This was his first taste of domestic football away from France.
Born in Lyon (11-9-1979), Abidal started his footballing career with Lyon-la-Duchère in the French CFA 2 Division, where he played as a left sided midfielder. In the summer of 2000, he signed a professional deal with Monaco, making his debut in Ligue 1 on 16th September 2000 against Toulouse. In his first season in the Principality he alternated appearances with the reserves and the first team, with whom he appeared in 8 league matches and once in the Champions League. In the 2001/02 season, Abidal made a further 14 appearances in the Monaco defence, either at full back or using his strength as a centre back.
At the end of the season, Abidal asked to go out on loan to get more first team football. He moved to Lille, managed by the man who gave him his Ligue 1 debut with Monaco, Claude Puel. He spent 2 seasons there and gained a reputation as one of the best defenders in the country.
In the summer of 2004, he returned to his hometown when he was signed by the league champions of the previous three seasons, Olympique Lyon. He earned a place in the starting line-up from the very beginning and made his international debut for 'Les Bleus' on August 18th 2004 against Bosnia.
Abidal helped Lyon win three more league titles plus three Super Cups, forming part of a team that enthralled the whole of Europe with their great football. In the 2006 World Cup in Germany, he played six of France's seven games and won a runners-up medal, after which he had a great season with Lyon for the third consecutive year, with 31 starts in Ligue 1. He also figured in seven Champions League matches in the starting line-up and played 10 times for France in the 2006-07 season.
Eric Abidal joined FC Barcelona in the summer of 2007. The Frenchman played 30 League games, 10 in the Champions League and 6 in the Cup, sharing left-back duties with Sylvinho, although on more than one occasion Frank Rijkaard used him as a central defender. At the end of the season he played for France in Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland.
In the 2008/09 season he won the treble with Barça, but it was also a year of misfortune for Abidal. First he was injured against Espanyol and missed eight weeks of football, and on his return he was sent off in the semi finals of both the Champions League and Spanish Cup and so was suspended for both finals in Rome and Valencia. He played 31 games in all three competitions.
In the 2009-10 season he reached a peak of form, made some great goal assists but was once again plagued by injury. He played 17 games in the league and 8 in the Champions League..
The 2010/11 season was the hardest of all for Éric Abidal, when he was found to have a liver tumour in March. But showing an amazing fighting spirit, he would be back playing just six weeks later, in the 1-1 draw with Madrid in the Champions League semi final second leg. Abidal started the Wembley final on the left after missing the Rome final though suspension, and captain Puyol left it to him to lift the trophy after they had beaten Manchester United 3-1. That game in London was also his 150th for the club.
On January 18, 2012, two days after renewing his contract with Barça, he scored his second goal for the club as they knocked Madrid out in the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey. But the 2011/12 came to a cruel end for Éric Abidal. On Thursday March 15, a year after the announcement of his liver tumour, the club revealed that he was going to need to go into surgery for a transplant. He was released from hospital on May 21, 2012, but still had to return for regular check-ups.
Abidal was in the France team that reached the World Cup final in Germany in 2006 and also appeared at Euro 2008 and the South Africa World Cup in 2010.
UEFA Team of the Year: 2007
2012/13 FC Barcelona 2011/12 FC Barcelona 2010/11 FC Barcelona 2009/10 FC Barcelona 2008/09 FC Barcelona 2007/08 FC Barcelona 2006/07 Olympique de Lyon 2005/06 Olympique de Lyon 2004/05 Olympique de Lyon 2003/04 Lille OSC 2002/03 Lille OSC 2001/02 AS Mónaco 2000/01 AS Mónaco
Debut: Racing-FC Barcelona (0-0, League), 26/08/2007