Bayern Munich left-back David Alaba has spoken of the important role that Franck Ribery has played in his career to date, revealing that the two have been firm friends ever since the versatile Austrian first joined the club at the age of just 16.
A couple of years after himself arriving from Marseille, a 25-year-old Ribery was an established first-team star back then and did his best to make a young Alaba feel at home right away.
"I was fortunate enough to get into a seasoned [first-team] squad in 2010, where everyone has really taken care that young players can evolve and be challenged," Alaba told FCBayern.com.
"Basti Schweinsteiger, Mario Gomez, Philipp Lahm and also Franck, who is one of the most important people in my career. He tried to get me on the first day."
Alaba had initially signed Austria Wien's youth team in 2008 and went on to form a fine partnership with Ribery on Bayern's left flank after he started playing regular first-team games from 2011/12 onward.
Injury to Ribery in recent seasons has limited the number of games they have been able to play together, but Alaba is still amazed by the motivation to succeed of his friend and 'role model'.
"Now he is 34-years-old and still sprayed with ambition," the left-back explained.
"He is always hungry and wants to evolve, to put his mark on the game. But Franck is not just a role model, luckily we are now also very, very good and close friends."
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