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Wed Apr 16 16:11:40 SAST 2014

Ribery has no regrets about return to old club Lille

Reuters | 23 October, 2012 09:210 Comments
FC Bayern Muenchen v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - Bundesliga
Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich reacts during the Bundesliga match against Hoffenheim at Allianz Arena on October 6, 2012 in Munich, Germany
Image by: Alexander Hassenstein / Bongarts/Getty Images

Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery has said he bears no grudges towards Lille as the Frenchman prepares for a return to the club that rejected him as a teenager.

Ribery will line up with his Bayern teammates on Tuesday for their Champions League group game in northern France, 13 years after Lille dumped the then 16-year-old winger.

Lille said Ribery was released for “bad behaviour” following an alleged school fight, but the player insists it was because he was considered too small to succeed in professional football.

Ribery has been at odds with the Ligue 1 team’s academy director, Jean-Michel Vandamme, since.

“Regarding my behaviour as well as soccer (at Lille), there was just one problem at school, where we were (messing about) and I (accidentally) broke a girl’s elbow,” Ribery told a news conference on Monday.

“This is when I got dumped. But they already wanted to fire me well before because I was too little.”

After leaving Lille in 1999, he joined amateur club Boulogne-sur-Mer, in his hometown in northern France, where his career took off.

After winning two Bundesliga titles and two German Cups, reaching two Champions League finals with Bayern, and playing for France at the 2006 World Cup, Ribery says he is glad to be back in Lille and has no regrets.

“I enjoy being here,” he said. “I have got good memories. I do not feel bad because I play for one of the greatest clubs in the world.”

But he claimed that Vandamme still harbours feelings of jealousy towards him. “Even now, when I read some comments by Vandamme, I read many untrue things,” Ribery said. “I can see he is jealous.”

Vandamme, who is still at Lille, told the French newspaper France Soir last year that Ribery was released because of his behaviour.

“We dumped him after 250 warnings and 300 reprimands,” he said. “We could not tolerate his behaviour...He fought a girl at school and broke her arm. It was hard because we were seeing his talent even if we never thought he would have such a career.”

Despite the row, Ribery said he was happy to see how Lille, who won the French title in 2011, have developed in the past decade.

Bayern are third in Group F on three points after losing 3-1 to Belarussian side BATE Borisov earlier this month, while Lille are bottom without a point.

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