Around 12,000 pack Fiorentina's stadium to welcome Ribery

Newly hired French forward of Fiorentina, Franck Ribery controls the ball as he is officially presented in Florence, Italy, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. (Claudio Giovannini/ANSA via AP)

FLORENCE, Italy (AP) About 12,000 fans welcomed new signing Franck Ribery at Fiorentina's Stadio Artemio Franchi on Thursday.

Ribery walked onto the field to the "Rocky" theme tune, and did a few ball tricks in the center circle, before speaking to the fans.

The 36-year-old Frenchman then walked around the edge of the pitch, signing autographs, and posing for photos with fans.

Ribery signed a two-year deal on Wednesday with Fiorentina, which is aiming for a renaissance under its new American ownership.

Ribery was a free agent after 12 seasons with Bayern Munich, which included a Champions League title in 2013.

Former Bayern player, coach and president Franz Beckenbauer famously said when they signed Ribery it was like "winning the lottery."

When Ribery was asked about that at a news conference on Thursday, he laughingly said: "I hope I can be a winning lottery ticket for Fiorentina, above all, because they didn't pay anything for me."

Fiorentina hosts last season's runner-up Napoli on Saturday. The visitors are coached by Ribery's former coach, Carlo Ancelotti.

Fiorentina was bought by cable television businessman Rocco Commisso in June after finishing 16th in Serie A last season, narrowly avoiding relegation.

Fiorentina won the last of its two Italian titles 50 years ago. Its most recent trophy was the Italian Cup 18 years ago.

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Updated August 22, 2019

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