Full name: Éric-Sylvain Bilal Abidal
Squad No: 22
Date of birth: 11 September 1979
Place of birth: Lyon, France
Height: 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight: 75 kg (165 lbs)
Eric Abidal was born in the suburbs of one of France's largest cities, Lyon, to an immigrant family from Martinique. He started his footballing journey with a local club AS Lyon Duchère where he played as a left midfielder.
In the year 2000 Abidal moved to Monaco, on a free transfer, where he signed his first professional contract with AS Monaco FC. Les Rouge et Blanc saw he has potential as a defender and they moved him to left back, while they also used the youngster's strength at center-half.
Abidal stayed two years in the French Riviera, but he never won a starting job as he was mostly used as a substitute. Eric made 25 appearances for AS Monaco, but he never got on the scoresheet.
In the summer of 2002 AS Monaco transferred Eric Abidal to Lille OSC. Initially the move was a loan, but Lille the made it permanent one for € 300K. There Abidal's career picked up as he was a regular member of the starting XI. In two seasons he played in 60 matches, but four years into his professional career he was still looking for his first goal.
Abidal's stellar play caught the eyes of bigger clubs and in 2004 he became one of Olympique Lyon's biggest signings. Back in his hometown he played at a very high level as a left back and became known as one of the best fullbacks in France. Abidal was a key member of Lyon's starting line-up and led his team to win three straight titles.
76 appearances and one goal later FC Barcelona came knocking for the Frenchman's services. Abidal joined Frank Rijkaard's squad for €15M, but there he initially shared left-back duties with Sylvinho. Year-by-year Abidal got more used to Barca's system and he was always on the pitch in important matches.
In the 2010-11 season Eric Abidal appeared to be having a career year playing both at the left side and in the heart of the defense. But on 15 March 2011 Barcelona announced that the defender was diagnosed with a tumor on his liver. He was operated two days later and speculations were that not only his season was lost, but that his career as a footballer was under threat.
Abidal proved all speculations wrong as he made a triumphant return to the football pitch as a late substitute in the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid on 3 May, less that two months later. Abidal has played 144 games for Blaugrana and he has scored once. His goal decided the Round of 16 match-up in the Cop del Rey against Athletic Bilbao.
Abidal entered the international stage with the French national team, while he was playing with Lyon, making his debut on 18 August 2004. He was the top choice at left back of every France coach since his debut, becoming a key member of every Les Bleus team. Abidal has earned 55 caps, but he has yet to score for France.
Eric Abidal is a versite defender as he is capable playing as a left back and as a center-half. His combination of strength and pace allows him to play both positions. Abidal is positionally very sound and he doesn't panic when thing don't go his way. He is also one of the most mentally strong persons you will ever come across. Abidal can sometimes get carried away while defending, resulting in many yellow and even red cards.
Ligue 1 (3): 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07
Trophée des champions (3): 2005, 2006, 2007
La Liga (2): 2008-09, 2009-10
Copa del Rey (1): 2008-09
Supercopa de España (2): 2009, 2010
UEFA Champions League (1): 2008-09
UEFA Super Cup (1): 2009
FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2009
UEFA Team of the Year (1): 2007
Eric Abidal's current deal expires in the summer of 2012, but he is expected to sign a two year extension in coming days.
Next up: Andreu Fontàs