Bayern Munich's David Alaba has hailed teammate Franck Ribery as a "role model" for him at the club, and cites the Frenchman's influence in shaping him into the player he is today.
"I was really lucky to come into an established team in 2010, where everyone paid attention to developing young players," Alaba said in an interview with the official Bayern website. "Basti Schweinsteiger, Mario Gomez, Philipp Lahm and also Franck, who's one of the most important people in my career. He tried to help me progress from day one."
That help has evidently paid off. Though still just 25, Alaba has already won more than most players do in a lifetime, with six Bundesliga titles, four DFB Cups and the UEFA Champions League, among others, as well as chalking up over 200 Bundesliga appearances.
Ribery befriended Alaba when the Austria international — nine years his junior — was just 16 at Bayern's youth academy, and the pair's off-the-pitch rapport has translated into one of the Bundesliga's most potent partnerships on it.
Indeed, their ability to read each other's game has been priceless in giving Bayern the sharpest of cutting edges down the left. "I prefer playing with him, and he is glad when I am on the pitch as well. There is an understanding between us," said Ribery, who has featured in over 100 Bundesliga games with his left-flank partner as the duo have played a fundamental role in five successive title wins.
The respect is certainly mutual. "Franck's 34 now and is still really ambitious," Alaba said. "He's still hungry and wants to keep developing and mark his mark on games. But Franck's not just a role model; we're also very close friends now."
Alongside Ribery, Alaba says the backing of his family also helped him with the transition to Munich from his native Vienna. "We've always had a very close relationship," he said. "Especially at the start in Munich I really felt their support and appreciated it. My parents still haven't missed a single home game to this day."
Watch: Alaba the free-kick wizard