We footballers have a great job, we like what we do and we have fun. And, we at FC Bayern Munich hope to entertain the thousands of Indian fans we are expecting at the Audi Football Summit.
Success doesn’t come easy at least I haven’t seen it happen without hard work and determination. There was a time when it seemed that my football adventure was over. I had to shift temporarily into construction and that meant digging, putting in lines, making holes and closing them. But even there, I worked hard and learnt a lot from helping my father.
I got back to football when FC Metz offered my first professional contract in 2004. I played brilliantly for them and was sent to Istanbul, where I was part of the team that won the Turkish Cup with Galatasaray.
My childhood was not spent with a silver spoon in my mouth. I grew up in the French working-class city of Boulogne-sur-Mer on the English Channel, and I learnt to live with these problems, including a scar on my face from an unfortunate accident. I faced a lot of taunts but I always answered them with boldness. As a teenager I was already bouncing around with smaller clubs. My stint with Galatasaray, however, didn’t last long and it was finally in 2005-06 that I reached stable ground after getting a breakthrough with Olympique Marseille.
It was an honour to play with the great Zinedine Zidane and take France to second place in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. It took many years to realise some of my cherished dreams, but I wish to tell my young friends in India that I never gave up hope.
At Bayern I am known as a guy with a funny bone, and I like making friends. Till we land in Delhi, I hope more people will come to know about FC Bayern Munich and help us give a befitting farewell to Bhaichung Bhutia. I also hope they will support our small gesture to help the people of Sikkim deal with the devastation of the earthquake. Football can be a great healer!
(Ribery was part of the France squad that finished runners-up in the 2006 World Cup)