On the 3rd September 2011 it seemed highly unlikely that an article entitled ‘The renaissance of Steed Malbranque’ would ever be considered in the year 2013 but the career of the former Fulham, Tottenham and Sunderland midfielder has been nothing but extraordinary since that point.
On that day it was announced by many sources that Malbranque had retired from the sport at the age of 31; just two months after joining new club St Etienne. The tragic reason for his apparent retirement came to light the same day; the former French under-21 international was quitting the game to care for his ill son who had just been diagnosed with cancer. A tragic tale; yet one that would have been more tragic if it was actually true. Malbranque and St Etienne quickly made it clear that he did not have a son and no immediate members of his family that needed caring for. Malbranque had not even retired just simply decided to end his association with Les Verts.
When asked by L’Equipe what he planned to do now he was retired he retorted:
"I never said that. The club said that. I am still hesitant. I cannot put myself in the future. I did not take pleasure in training. I tried to be happy but I could not''
Malbranque took time out from the game and then in August last year went on trial with his first club Lyon; who were looking for affordable options in the wake of stagnant finances and he impressed so much that he signed a one-year contract.
What has occurred since has been nothing short of a renaissance. Malbranque has played with the original care-free creativity that belied his age when Fulham first brought him to England in 2001. Add to this his impressive physical dimensions for a 33-year-old and Lyon have signed up one of the bargains of the season.
In his second debut for the club he faced off against Valenciennes and rolled back the years with a man-of-the-match performance in the heart of the midfield. In the absence of the perpetually injured Yoann Gourcuff the form of Malbranque has been integral to helping Lyon to second place in Ligue 1; joint on points with free-spending Paris Saint-Germain. This season Malbranque has featured in 20 games and has one of the best pass completion rates in Ligue 1 (81.9%) as well as assisting eight goals.
Such form has seen him rewarded with a one-year contract extension at the start of December and another reward for extending his career will come in February when he returns to White Hart Lane to face Spurs; who he of course represented for two seasons between 2006 and 2008 where he will be sure to receive a warm welcome especially from those that know of his recent trials and tribulations.
So there you have it. Steed Malbranque; proving it is never too late for a comeback even at 33-years-old.
What do you make of Steed Malbranque’s recent career?