'I felt straight away that the people love me'
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?
Ribéry: “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?
Ribéry: “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?
Ribéry: “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?
Ribéry: “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.”