'I felt straight away that the people love me'

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Franck Ribéry said ‘Servus’ to Munich five months ago – now it’s ‘Ciao, amico!’ in Florence. The FCB club magazine ‘51’ visited Ribéry in his new home for a cup of coffee and quickly discovered that the 36-year-old is worshipped just as much this side of the Alps as he was in Bavaria.

The interview with Franck Ribéry

Franck, how are you finding the city?
Franck Ribéry:
“Florence is much smaller than Munich and the mentality of the people here is completely different. The passion for football reminds me of my time in southern France with Marseille. I like that. Some things here do remind me of Munich, though: the atmosphere in the city, the respect of the people. I also feel safe here.”

Are you missing anything from Munich?
“Florence has everything that my family and I need – even if there’s no Oktoberfest here [laughs]. Munich is Munich. I wasn’t there for just two or three years, but 12! You can’t just do that [clicks fingers] and forget everything. I enjoyed great successes in Munich and made a lot of friends. I was really at home there, so I know I want to live in Munich again after I finish playing.”

Will your family join you in Florence?
 “Yes, as soon as I’ve found a house. And that’s not easy because I have a big family. For me it’s important that we’re all together. I couldn’t live here alone. We discussed where I should move for a long time as a family. My wife got a good feeling about Florence straight away. Three weeks before I decided myself, she said: ‘I think we’ll go to Florence.’ And she was right. We’re all really happy now.”

The fans reacted enthusiastically to your arrival. Are you now the king of Florence?
“My reception here was special, I didn’t expect that at all. Even when I drove from the airport to the club, there were fans following us on scooters. Then there was the presentation at the stadium in the evening. I won’t ever forget the moment when I walked into the stadium. I felt straight away that the people love me.”

The fans are expecting a lot from you. How do you handle the pressure?
“Of course expectations are high because of my career, because of my success with Bayern, because of my name. But I like that pressure and I need it, too. I want to achieve things here for myself, for the club and the fans. I was an important part of the team at Bayern but I think I’ll have even greater responsibility at Fiorentina because we have a very young side. I can help them with my experience.”

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