Ribéry: I'm back, and that’s good
"Ribéry! Ribéry!" The crowd chanted as their hero warmed up on the touchline. A quarter of an hour later the time had come. Nine months after his last appearance Franck Ribéry took his first steps back onto the turf. "It feels good to be sent on if you've been sidelined for so long," the 32-year-old reported after tough 269-day lay-off. "I'm back. That's good."
But this was no ordinary return; the winger was instantly in the thick of the action. A mere six minutes into his time on the pitch, he scored the only Bayern goal in the 3-1 defeat away to Gladbach, driving home the consolation effort after fine build-up play by Thomas Müller and Arturo Vidal. "His goal was the icing on the cake of course," commented Matthias Sammer.
Ribéry's tally after 15 minutes on the pitch: 23 touches of the ball, 15 passes, two crosses, two shots at goal, one goal -- very impressive. "He made a very, very good comeback. All of us are glad that he's back," commented a delighted Philipp Lahm. Pep Guardiola too was "pleased. It was important for him. Nine months is a long time. He played with his usual aggression straightaway."
'The foot is okay'
Ribéry has been sidelined with a persistent ankle injury since March. In June and July his ankle had to be immobilised, but most recently his recovery progressed very quickly. The winger resumed the full team training schedule last Wednesday. On Friday he travelled to Gladbach. And on Saturday he played. "I didn't expect it to go so fast," revealed Ribéry, surprised by the turbo comeback himself.
"The foot is okay. The doctors have confirmed it. He was ready," explained Sammer. "The coach asked me if I wanted to travel to Gladbach because I'd trained well. I said: of course, count me in," reported Ribéry, although he added a word of caution: "I still need time, rhythm, good training." His aim is to continue working hard in the remaining weeks before Christmas, and then really hit the gas at the winter training camp.