Problem students have the right answer for Bayern
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