Back in 2010, Franck Ribery was on the verge of leaving Bayern Munich for Real Madrid as his agents had all but sold him to the La Liga giants at the time. He came close to leaving just under three years after he’d been signed from Olympique Marseille, but it was discussions with Uli Hoeness that ultimately led to him deciding to renew his contract with Bayern and stay in Munich.
In addition to Real Madrid, Ribery was also being courted to Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Chelsea FC, FC Barcelona, and even Manchester United. Bayern wound up signing his contract renewal just days after they lost the 2010 Champions League final to Inter.
In a recent Deutsche Presse-Agentur interview where Hoeness was giving his thoughts on new SPD Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, he also recalled the period in time that Ribery was very close to joining Madrid. From what was being reported in the press, it seemed as if the move was as good as done, but Hoeness said he and his wife decided to invite Ribery and his wife over for dinner, for which Hoeness’ wife made a halal dish. Ribery’s wife, Wahiba, is a French Muslim of Algerian descent, a culture in which halal dishes are commonplace in the cuisine.
“When the story with Franck Ribéry at FC Bayern seemed to come to an end in 2010 because his agents had more or less sold him to Real Madrid, we invited him and his wife Wahiba to dinner with us. Susi cooked halal especially for her, we had a wonderful evening, and around midnight Wahiba finally said: ‘Franck, nous restons a Munich!’ We stay in Munich,” Hoeness said, describing his memory of that particular dinner with Ribery and his wife (Sport Bild).
Hoeness said that his wife, Susi, would always cook food for guests when he would phone her in the morning telling her that he’d be bringing someone over, whether it was a player, agent, staff member, or someone else. “As a manager, I often called in the morning that I would come home with people to eat in the evening. Then my wife conjured up something to eat,” he explained.
Hoeness’ solid relationship with Ribery has always been a well known topic at FC Bayern, and it was fairytale ending when the Frenchman scored in his final match for Bayern on the last day of the 2018/19 season that clinched Bayern the Bundesliga title. Hoeness was reduced to tears of joy at the Allianz Arena when Ribery’s goal went in. As recently as two years ago, even Ribery himself personally thanked Hoeness when he was reflecting on how the decision to stay at Bayern at the time was definitely the right decision for him. “It’s been one of the best decisions of my life to stay with Bayern. What happened in the aftermath, I couldn’t have imagined better. I have to say thank you to Uli Hoeness and my manager Alain Migliaccio again, it all went perfectly,” he had said (Transfermarkt).
That summer, Real Madrid wound up bringing in Mesut Ozil, Ricardo Carvalho, Sami Khedira, and Angel Di Maria, most notably. They lost out to Barcelona by four points for the La Liga title in the 2010/11 season and were also knocked out of the Champions League semi-finals by them.