Mathieu Valbuena (French pronunciation: [ma.tjø val.bwe.na]; born 28 September 1984) is a French international footballer who plays for Ligue 1 club Lyon and the France national team. He plays as an attacking midfielder and a winger and is known for his pace, technical ability, and tenacious style of play. He is described by his former coach at Libourne Saint-Seurin Didier Tholot as "an explosive player who is capable of quickly taking two opponents out of the game to create space, above all due to his dribbling skills." Due to his small stature, Valbuena is nicknamed le petit vélo, which translates to "the small bike". This is a play on Valbuena's size and the fact that Marseille's home ground is called the Stade Vélodrome.
Valbuena began his career at professional club Bordeaux. He was let go from the club after two seasons and subsequently joined amateur club Langon-Castets in the fifth division of French football. In 2004, Valbuena joined Libourne Saint-Seurin in the Championnat National, the third level of French football. The midfielder had a good 2005–06 season with the club and signed with Ligue 1 club Marseille, prior to the 2006–07 season. With Marseille, Valbuena played in the UEFA Champions League for the first time and, in the 2009–10 season, was part of the team that won the league and league cup double, as well as the Trophée des champions.
Valbuena is a French international and made his debut with the team in May 2010 in a friendly match against Costa Rica. He scored his first international goal in the same match and was named to the team to participate in the 2010 FIFA World Cup as a result. Valbuena appeared in only one of the three matches France contested at the World Cup. In November 2010, he scored his second career international goal against England at Wembley Stadium.Close