Toronto FC sign Benoit Cheyrou

Toronto FC announced Thursday that the club has signed French midfielder Benoît Cheyrou. As per club and league policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. He will be added to the roster upon receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC).

“Benoit’s vision and his ability to distribute the ball are two very distinct qualities that have made him such a successful player throughout his career both domestically in France and in European competition,” said Toronto FC General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “He has a wealth of experience and success and is another important piece that complements the ones we currently have in place. We are very excited to bring him to Toronto FC.”

Cheyrou, 33, spent the past seven seasons at French Ligue 1 side Olympique de Marseille (Marseille). For his career he has made 304 combined appearances in Ligue 1, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup/Europa League, Coupe de France, and Coupe de la Ligue matches. He has also added 28 goals and 42 assists for Marseille. In addition, Cheyrou was named to the Ligue 1 Team of the Year on three consecutive occasions (07-08, 08-09, 09-10). With Marseille, Cheyrou helped the club win the 2009-10 Ligue 1 title and three consecutive Coupe de la Ligue titles in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

“I’m very excited to sign for Toronto FC,” said Toronto FC midfielder Benoit Cheyrou. “I cannot wait to wear the jersey and join my new teammates.”

Cheyrou began his youth career at Racing Club de France, making him along with his older brother the third generation of the Cheyrou family to train at the club after both his grandfather and father. He went on to join the youth system at Lille OSC (Lille) before signing with the First Team for the 1999-2000 season; that same year his older brother Bruno also signed for the club. At Lille, Cheyrou helped the side gain promotion into Ligue 1, after winning the Ligue 2 title in 1999-00. After battling through injury, his appearances increased during his time with the club. He scored his first professional goal shortly after being substituted into the match during a 3-0 victory over Marseille on October 5, 2002. Cheyrou continued to be a key part of the club, helping to lead Lille into European competition, including qualification for the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup before departing for AJ Auxerre (Auxerre) ahead of the 2004-05 season. In his first season, Cheyrou helped lead Auxerre to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup, where they lost to Russian club CSKA Moscow. Later that season the club defeated Sedan to claim the 2005 Coupe de France title. Cheyrou was named club captain for the 2006-07 season, which would end up being his last at the club, finishing with a combined 113 appearances, with eight goals and nine assists. In the summer of 2007, Marseille reached a transfer agreement with Auxerre for Cheyrou. During the 2007-08 season, Cheyrou helped lead Marseille to a third place finish in Ligue 1, playing alongside French international Samir Nasri in midfield. That same season, Marseille also upset Liverpool at Anfield during the UEFA Champions League, a match where Cheyrou played the full 90 minutes. Cheyrou and Marseille progressed into finishing second in Ligue 1 for the 2008-09 season; before winning the league the following season. In addition to the accomplishments Cheyrou was part of while at Marseille, he made 37 appearances, scoring one goal in UEFA Champions League play.

Cheyrou has represented France at the U-19, U-20, and U-21 levels during his career, highlighted by winning the UEFA European U-19 Football Championship in 2000. He earned a call to the French national team on February 25, 2010 but has yet to earn a cap.

Benoît Cheyrou
Position: Midfielder
Height: 6’0
Weight: 175 lbs
Birthdate: May 3, 1981 (age 33)
Birth Place: Suresnes, France
Hometown: Suresnes, France
Nationality: French
Last Club: Olympique de Marseille
How Acquired: Signed with Toronto FC on Thursday, January 29, 2015
Pronunciation: “Buhn-wah Shey-rou”