Éric Abidal (born July 11, 1979 in Lyon) is a football (soccer) player from France. He plays as a left back and central defender with Olympique Lyonnais and the French national team. Abidal was trained in Lyon-Duchère, a team playing in the suburbs of Lyon. He started his professionnal career with AS Monaco on September 16, 2000, where he earned 22 first-team appearances. He moved to Lille OSC where he was reunited with his former manager Claude Puel and earned 62 first-team appearances. At the end of 2004, he returned to his native region by joining Olympique Lyonnais, which had just won its second successive Ligue 1 championship.
He is currently considered one of the best fullbacks in the Ligue 1. He is an athletic player (180 cm and 75 kg). In the Lyon defence, he plays with two French internationals (Grégory Coupet and Anthony Réveillère) and two Brazilian internationals (Cris and Caçapa). He has earned four caps with the French national team, having earned his debut cap on August 18, 2004. Abidal has a good chance to be named to the French squad for the upcoming Football World Cup 2006, although players like Patrice Evra would probably be ahead of him in the lineup.