Ribéry in charming Campania / Italy / Salernitana / SOFOOT.com

At 38, Franck Ribéry embarked on a new mission as courageous as it was unexpected: to help Salernitana to stay in Serie A. A career choice like a man who built himself in difficulty and who has never stopped loving his sport.

23 years ago, Franck Ribéry was about to be fired from the LOSC training center. At the same time, 1,800 kilometers to the south, the Salernitana was breathing the fresh air of the Italian elite fifty years after its last breath of fresh air. A time when Delio Rossi coached the Salerno club, with guys like Gennaro Gattuso, Marco Di Vaio and Rigobert Song under his command. A time when the Arechi stadium was hell for the famous “Sette Sorelle”: Inter, Roma, Lazio, Juventus, more than half left Campania empty-handed. At the same time, Ribéry was kicking the ball in his Chemin-Vert neighborhood and not sure that one day donning the Salernitana jersey was part of his plans. Twenty-three years later, however, it is a reality: on the lawn of Torino this Sunday at 3 p.m., Ribéry will have his buttocks resting on the bench of the Serie B vice-champion.

Francky goes to Hollywood

“I am happy to be here with you, I will do my best to help achieve our goal: maintenance.  » Barely set foot in Naples and traveled at the cash desk the forty minutes that separate the adopted city of Maradona from her new host family, Ch’ti Franck is already on a mission. Audrey Pulvar, a pair of crocodile skin glasses placed on her nose, is not there to welcome her. The team manager Salvatore Avallone and the agent Davide Lippi (son of), them, yes. So much the better: what interests Franck is this new contract in a major European championship. And nothing else. “When the gas runs out, I’ll go home. But it is not yet the time. (…) I live for football. If I lived for the money, I wouldn’t be here.  » If it was really for the money, he would not have put down his suitcases in 2019 in Florence either. Two years during which Ribéry tried to rekindle the flame of a pale Fiorentina with, as a bonus, stats he has nothing to be ashamed of (5 goals and 10 assists in 50 games).

Two years in which he saw Federico Chiesa take flight, Dusan Vlahović become a scoring machine, in part thanks to him. Despite this, the kid from the North was not extended by his management.  » A lack of respect  » quickly digested and forgiven, eclipsed by this ardent will not to stop. Hellas held the rope for a few days to get him back, but the Verona club finally settled on Gianluca Caprari. Another way out? The Turkish club with a strong Italian accent from Karagümrük. But Ribéry has clear ideas: it is Italy and the Salernitana that he wants. Even if he could have hoped for a salary greater than the 1.5 million euros that he will receive on his one-year contract (renewable if maintained). An important clarification, because Ribéry said it: he does not do that for the money.

« Ribéry to Salerno, it would be like bringing Maradona to Naples »

When the deal was still in its final phase, the sporting director Angelo Fabiani used strong words at the microphone of Radio Kiss Kiss to evoke the probable arrival of Ribery in his club: “Bringing Ribéry to Salerno would be like bringing Maradona to Naples.  » Exaggerated remarks, already mocked by the tifosi and Neapolitan rivals, but which testify to the eccentricity of a club like no other. From a hundred-year-old club at the antipodes of Chinese or Emirati stables, usual drop-off points favored by a bunch of great champions for their last lap. From a club which did not have to struggle to bring back 10,000 fans during the presentation of its new number 7 and which corresponds to the sinuous career of Franck Ribery. After Lille, it took guts to revive in Boulogne, then Alès and Brest to finally hatch in Metz. After Galatasaray, Marseille and a 2006 World Cup where he made Thierry Gilardi scream one evening from France-Spain, it took resources to establish himself at Bayern as one of the best players in the recent history of the German club for more ten years.

So there you have it, in the heart of the twin city with Rouen, Ribéry will certainly not apply for the Golden Ball, will not play the Champions League, will certainly take a few roustes. Like his new supporters, he does not know in which direction the club is heading, which still belongs to Claudio Lotito, the boss of Lazio. The Serie A regulations logically prohibiting a man from having two teams entered in the same championship, the question of a buyer is more than ever on the table: without a buyer on December 31, the Salernitana will be excluded from Serie A. Francky Neither does it know if his sporting relationship with the giant center-forward Simy will do damage, if this transalpine chapter will be the last in a long and rich career which will one day have to be ended. But too bad after all: when you like adventure, it is all literature.

By Andrea Chazy

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