Franck Ribery was given a spectacular presentation at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. “I knew three weeks ago I’d be coming to Fiorentina.”
About 12,000 fans welcomed new signing Ribery, who walked onto the field to the ‘Rocky’ theme tune, and did a few ball tricks in the center circle, before speaking to the fans.
The 36-year-old Frenchman then walked around the edge of the pitch, signing autographs, and posing for photos with fans.
Ribery signed a two-year deal on Wednesday with Fiorentina, who are aiming for a renaissance under their new American ownership.
Ribery was a free agent after 12 seasons with Bayern Munich, which included a Champions League title in 2013.
Former Bayern player, coach and president Franz Beckenbauer famously said when they signed Ribery it was like ‘winning the lottery.’
When Ribery was asked about that at a news conference on Thursday, he laughingly said:
‘I hope I can be a winning lottery ticket for Fiorentina, above all, because they didn’t pay anything for me.’
Viola director Daniele Pradè added that the family was crucial in this transfer deal.
“I thank Franck’s wife, because at the end of the day, she made the decision. If great players come to Fiorentina, it’s for Florence and these magnificent fans.”
President Rocco Commisso’s right-hand man Joe Barone also spoke to the crowd about the surprise move.
“Rocco calls 10 times a day and wanted to know all the details on Franck. I am happy that he is our player! I won’t promise anything, but we are working to get into Europe.”
Fiorentina host last season’s runner-up Napoli on Saturday. The visitors are coached by Ribery’s former coach, Carlo Ancelotti.
Fiorentina was bought by cable television businessman Rocco Commisso in June after finishing 16th in Serie A last season, narrowly avoiding relegation.
Fiorentina won the last of their two Italian titles 50 years ago. Their most recent trophy was the Italian Cup 18 years ago.