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Boot Room
By ESPN Staff

Ribery: Teaming up with Zizou is a dream

Franck Ribery may be only 23 but the France midfielder is already looking forward to the day he tells his children and grandchildren that he played in the same team as Zinedine Zidane.

Ribery, who will line up alongside Zidane in tomorrow's World Cup semi-final with Portugal in Munich, was one of two uncapped players called into Raymond Domenech's squad for the 2006 World Cup, the other being Wigan defender Pascal Chimbonda.

However, he has seized his opportunity with both hands and is now the owner of a permanent place in the starting line-up alongside Zidane.

Ribery said: 'He (Zidane) is great, extraordinary.

'Everyone would like to play with Zidane and I have done everything I can to play in this World Cup. It's great to be at the World Cup playing alongside him and it will be great when later on in my career, or even when it's over, when I can say `I played with Zizou'.'

Ribery has been hailed by some as the likely successor to Zidane as talisman to the French team and the 34-year-old hero of France's 1998 World Cup victory has struck up a good rapport with the youngster.

Ribery plays for Marseille, the club Zidane supported as a boy, and like the playmaker, is Muslim, having converted to Islam when he married his wife Wahiba.

'All the players have helped me,' said Ribery. 'Zizou, (Thierry) Henry, (Lilian) Thuram, (Claude) Makelele, (Fabien) Barthez - the older ones have helped me and welcomed me into the team.

'There's a good atmosphere in the squad and you can see that on the pitch.

'I feel at ease with the squad and like to laugh and joke - I am not the sort of person who stays in my room. There is a good atmosphere and everyone has a laugh at everyone else.'

Ribery, who admitted that as a 15-year-old boy he joined in the street celebrations that marked France's first World Cup win, admitted he was still coming to terms with his meteoric rise.

'No-one thought I would be playing in a World Cup semi-final with Portugal,' said Ribery. 'I have had some difficult moments in the past so now I will savour this. I want to make my family happy.'