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Ribery 'messed up' and now wants to make up

 Franck Ribery of the French national soccer team smiles while speaking to the reporters during a media conference, prior to a training session at Cla...
 Franck Ribery of the French national soccer team pauses while speaking to the reporters during a media conference, prior to a training session at Cla...
 Franck Ribery of the French national soccer team, arrives for a media conference, prior to a training session at Clairefontaine training center, in C...

France Luxembourg Euro 2012 Soccer

Franck Ribery of the French national soccer team smiles while speaking to the reporters during a media conference, prior to a training session at Cla...

France Luxembourg Euro 2012 Soccer

Franck Ribery of the French national soccer team pauses while speaking to the reporters during a media conference, prior to a training session at Cla...

France Luxembourg Euro 2012 Soccer

Franck Ribery of the French national soccer team, arrives for a media conference, prior to a training session at Clairefontaine training center, in C...

France winger Franck Ribery accepts he "messed up" both in his private life and at last year's World Cup, and is now desperate to win back the affection of the French fans he let down.
Ribery was banned for three matches for his perceived role as a ringleader in France's training-ground strike at the World Cup in South Africa, and was recalled last week by coach Laurent Blanc for the first time since the tournament, although he had also been injured.
Before the World Cup, the Bayern Munich player was embroiled in a sex scandal for allegedly soliciting an underage prostitute, Zahia Deharm, an episode in his life he admits caused huge damage to his family and close friends.
"In my private life, in my life as a football player, I messed up," Ribery said Monday. "I went down the wrong roads, I lost myself. I hurt people who are very dear to me, I let down and even shocked many others. I am angry with myself and I'm sorry for it. It's true that we got things wrong in South Africa, we didn't see things in the right way."
The 27-year-old Ribery had struggled with a series of niggling knee and ankle injuries since the World Cup, preventing Blanc from calling him up for the national team immediately after his ban ended. Last week, Blanc also recalled Patrice Evra, France's captain during the World Cup strike that shocked the nation. Evra got the largest ban, of five games.
"The punishments came, all sorts of punishments, human and otherwise," Ribery said. "We've paid for it, that's normal. But as I've said, let's turn the page, talk about the future."
Ribery's first match back could be this Friday away to Luxembourg in a 2012 European Championship qualifier. Four days later, he may get a heated reception from French fans at Stade de France if he plays in the friendly against Croatia.
"I was lucky enough to have been a player who was appreciated and loved by the French," Ribery said. "I have suffered a lot and I am still suffering from having lost this privileged relationship with them. I want to get it back.
"When you see the headlines, some of the things said, I can see not many people supported me."
While politicians lined up to bash Evra and Ribery, with sports minister Chantal Jouanno leading the calls for them never to play for France again, Blanc never publicly ruled out their return.
"It was very touching, because I felt Laurent Blanc's support a lot, that he really wanted me to come back into the France team," Ribery said. "He trusts me a lot, I am conscious of the fact it was not easy for him to take me back, with all that was said. It's up to me to give it back."
Ribery has 48 caps for France.
He went from national icon following his impressive performances at the 2006 World Cup _ and his chirpy character as a prankster within the team _ to villain when the story about the prostitution scandal broke before last year's World Cup.
He says he still harbors a grudge at some sections of the French press. Prior to Monday, he had not spoken to the French media since the World Cup.
"There were things that were said that shocked me a lot," he said. "I felt there was some nastiness. You (the press) affected a lot of people, especially those close to me, my wife. I have learned a lot, I've matured a lot. I've changed my behavior a lot, as well. I am more careful now, I trust people less."
Ribery says the World Cup should have been the outlet for his frustrations, but instead things just got worse for him.
"I wanted to forget about this big, big problem I had. The World Cup did not go well," Ribery said. "I am my own critic, I wasn't good on the pitch."
More than his performance on the pitch, as a senior member of the squad that went on strike one afternoon in Knysna, Ribery knows he should have done more to prevent it happening _ even though he denies being a ringleader.
"Maybe I didn't know how to say the things I should have said," he said. "I was there like everyone else, but at no time did I make decisions alone, at no time did I say, 'Do this.'"
In a bizarre conclusion, Ribery denied having a problem with playmaker Yoann Gourcuff during the World Cup _ some media reported a wild bust-up during a flight _ before then admitting he needed to clear the air with the Lyon player.
"I spoke with him during the World Cup, and I didn't like it that I was made out to be the bad guy and he was the unlucky one," Ribery said. "The thing I was expecting from him is that, at some stage, he issued a denial, or that he came and told you (the press) that there had never been any problem with me.
"He never did, but that's no big deal," Ribery added. "I'm here now, but I won't hide it, of course I will have a talk with him."


Updated : 2021-04-18 08:44 GMT+08:00