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Training and waiting

Zurich gala yet to excite relaxed Ribéry

“Müüller!”, “Aaarjen!”, “Laaahm!” - but above all: “Ribéry! Ribéry! Ribéry!” The locals go wild as soon as the France international leaves the training ground at the Volkswagen Camp Qatar. “The people are always friendly,” said Ribéry as he made his way through the scrum, “it’s great for them that Bayern are here. I like having my picture taken and signing autographs.”

The 30-year-old was equally relaxed when he spoke to “I took a complete break during the holidays,” he said. It has clearly done him good and the batteries are recharged. “The first training sessions were very good even though it’s always tough for the first few days after you come back,” he explained, “but you soon get back into the groove.”

Ribéry won almost everything there was to win in 2013: the Champions League, Bundesliga title, DFB Cup, UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup and, on top of that, he was named European and French footballer of the year. You couldn’t beat that! Or perhaps you can? In the vote for World Player of the Year Ribéry is up against Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the top three.

The result will be announced in six days’ time at a FIFA gala in Zurich. Ribéry will fly to Switzerland from Qatar for the event. As it stands, the Frenchman is not particularly excited about it “yet,” he said. “I think I’m in with a shout. The team and I have played really well in 2013. But we’ll see what happens. All I can do is wait.”

Praise from Guardiola

“Franck should head for Zurich with a broad smile on his face and enjoy every minute. It’s not easy to win it,” said Pep Guardiola to his wizard on the wing as a parting shot. “Franck has a big, big heart,” the Spaniard continued, “he works back a lot to help his team-mates. I’ve never seen a player at this level with so much character. The way he fights for his team. It’s an honour for me to be his coach. I hope I can help him play even better.”

Ribéry is happy at the direction the team is taking with Guardiola at the helm. “It’s all gone really well with Pep so far,” the Frenchman declared. Doha is the place to lay the foundations for further trophies. “We need to train well and then get on the front foot straight away.”