Problem students have the right answer for Bayern

April 21, 2008

Toni, Ribery raise arms in celebration

The German-language speaking skills of Italy’s Luca Toni and France’s Franck Ribery have suddenly become a bit of an obsession in the German media (I mentioned Toni’s one-word vocabulary last week).

There was a great quote from Toni a few days later explaining just how little work they do in the two language classes they have per week alongside their Argentine colleague Jose Ernesto Sosa.

“It’s a lot of fun because the teacher tries to explain something to us and we each answer in our own way,” Toni was quoted as saying in an interview with Tuttosport. “Me with an Italian accent, Ribery with a French accent and Sosa with an Argentine accent. We laugh a lot but at the end of the day we don’t learn much.”

Rarely have players made such light of communication difficulties as Ribery and Toni. The Italian scored Bayern’s first in the 2-1 Cup final win over Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, converting easily after a great run and cross from the French midfielder.

Toni got the winner, too — diverting a shot from Lukas Podolski in extra-time for his 35th goal since arriving from Fiorentina last year. It was the fourth game in a row featuring two goals from Toni, who has been pushing Bayern management to sign another Italian next season so he’ll have someone to talk to.

Actually, credit where it’s due, because after the Cup final the two players gave their German-speaking debuts on local TV.

“Das ist eine Wasser,” (This is a water) Ribery said in German that was somewhat less than grammatically correct as he squirted a bottle full of water on Toni, who was in the midst of an interview (in Italian). 

Toni also showed those language lessons had not been for nothing. Asked how his German was coming along he just said: “Langsam, langsam” (slowly).

Remember, Toni was a late developer as a striker, too, so this time next year he’ll probably be fluent in ‘the awful German language’.

Erik Kirschbaum, Berlin

PHOTO: Toni and Ribery celebrate after the Italian’s second goal in Bayern’s German Cup final win over Borussia Dortmund at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, April 19, 2008. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach


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Here’s my favourite quote form Mark Twain:
“I heard a Californian student in Heidelberg say, in one of his calmest moods, that he would rather decline two drinks than one German adjective.”

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Ribery and Toni are two of the best things to have happened to Bayern and the Bundesliga. Bundesliga will start to attract more high profile players and the league will again gain the popularity it enjoyed back in the days.

Posted by fcbfan | Report as abusive

if Freddy Adu can learn workable Portuguese in 3 months then Toni and Ribery have to be basically trying not to learn German.
It’s simply one thing humans have an innate ability to learn.
They have been a great pickup for Bayern though. If they want another Italian, they should get Gattusso.
In any event, the Champions League title will be returning to Bayern where it belongs next year!

Posted by papa bear | Report as abusive

[…] Language on the pitch is the only one that matters. (Reuters Soccer Blog) […]

Posted by Daily Dose.: 4.21.08 – World Football – The Offside – Soccer News and Opinion from leagues around the world | Report as abusive

Yeah, both these players have been class for Bayern and it would be great to see the German league rise up again. Right now the EPL is running away with all of the attention.

Some players seem to pick up languages rather quickly while others couldn’t really care less. Here’s a list of some the players who speak nearly 5 or 6: p

Posted by John | Report as abusive