Montreal Impact move inspired by Thierry Henry, Didier Drogba - Rod Fanni
Rod Fanni wanted to follow in the footsteps of friends Thierry Henry and Didier Drogba in moving to Major League Soccer, the former France international defender said after completing his switch to Montreal Impact.
Fanni, 36, signed a deal with the Canadian franchise through to June with an option to extend his contract to the end of the MLS season in late October.
The centre-back becomes the latest French player to sign for ex-Lyon boss Remi Garde in Montreal, and said he had been inspired by the careers Henry and Drogba in particular had carved out in MLS with New York Red Bulls and Montreal, respectively.
"I'm approaching this adventure with a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of happiness," Fanni told reporters at a news conference. "I've been hearing a lot about this league for quite some time. I have a lot of friends of who have played here, whether it be Thierry Henry, Didier Drogba, Peguy Luyindula, Romain Alessandrini. ... They have said a lot of good things about this league. It's great to get my turn to take part in it."
The arrival of Fanni, capped five times by France, is more timely with another offseason signing, Zakaria Diallo, out for up to six months after rupturing an Achilles tendon in training prior to last Sunday's season-opening defeat at the Vancouver Whitecaps.
However, Garde insisted the veteran defender, known for spells at Marseille, Rennes and Nice, would still have made the move had Diallo not been ruled out.
"It's a transfer I wanted even before Zakaria's injury," Garde said. "We were already very light with just two centre-backs. His arrival is all the more welcome with Zakaria's problem."
Garde also praised Fanni as someone who can add quality to Montreal.
"Rod needs no introduction," Garde said. "He's a player with a lot of experience, who'll be able to bring that experience and calmness, someone who's very calm and very determined, who has a lot of qualities.
"I didn't know him personally, but the football world is small. I gathered a lot of information. I'm very happy to be able to count on him. During our first telephone calls together, he decided very quickly, and I felt he had real motivation to come here."
Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman