Ribery Recalls 2006 World Cup Final Defeat to Italy

Bayern Munich and French icon Franck Ribery spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport (via Calciomercato) in an exclusive interview, shedding his thoughts on a host of topics – the 2006 FIFA World Cup final defeat at the hands of Italy and also the special place he has in his heart for the Azzurri.

He believes France were the better team in the iconic final played at Berlin’s Olympiastadion.

“France were stronger, we played better in the final. But this is football. Italy was very strong from a mental point of view.”

Ribery was replaced in the 100th minute by manager Raymond Domenech, only for Juventus icon David Trezeguet, whose error in the shoot-out was decisive.

“I was substituted by Trezeguet who missed the penalty kick. But David had scored the golden goal against Italy in the 2000 European Championship. These things happen in football.”

He then went on to praise Italy for the country it is, along with the Tuscan capital of Florence and southwestern Salerno, revealing how he found no problem settling in the Peninsula.

“I have always liked Italy: the mentality, the language, the food. Florence is wonderful and has an incredible crowd. I found great affection in Salerno: everyone here lives for football.”

Ribery helped the Granata avoid relegation from the top tier by achieving a 17th placed finish, edging Cagliari by one point.

“When we don’t win I see the sadness in the eyes of the fans and it bothers me. I’m not that good at accepting defeats, I’ve never learned. Last year I realized that the situation was difficult and I did everything to stay in Serie A. It is different from winning a cup, but the emotions are immense: that feat will remain forever in my heart.”

The Frenchman is presently in his fourth season in Italy, having spent the first two years at Fiorentina before jumping ship last season to Serie A newcomers Salernitana – the club he captains now.