Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery has revealed that Lille felt he was too small to make it as a professional footballer.
The France international trained with the northern club as a teenager but was released before signing with Boulogne, and he has admitted that the coaches wanted to get him off the books even before a serious injury eventually brought an end to his time with the club.
“I am very happy to return to Lille and the smell of the north,” he told reporters at a press conference ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League meeting between the two sides.
“There was only one problem. I had broken my elbow and that is why I was released. But before that, they wanted to release me because I was too small.
“I was good on the ball but too small for them. I am someone who never gives up on anything. I am very happy to have succeeded through other paths.”
Bayern go into the Group F encounter on the back of a surprise 3-1 defeat to BATE Borisov in their last European outing, and the 29-year-old has admitted that Tuesday’s match at Grand Stade Lille Metropole is crucial.
“It is very important to get a result here against Lille,” he said. “It is well known that they want to play a very good match and win against us.
“This is the third game in the Champions League. If we had six points, we would have come with the same desire to win at Lille.
“There is a little more pressure with only three points after two matches. If we ever have a bad result, it is not good for us.”
The former Marseille man did praise his opponents, though he admitted that he has no problems about having not made the grade with them as a youngster.
“No, it’s not a regret. I’m still at one of the biggest clubs in the world,” he said.
“I am very happy to see how Lille has grown. They have very good players, although many have now gone abroad. I am very happy for the fans.”