Fanni scrum

Olympique spirit

Former OM player joins ex-OL staff in Montreal

A stone’s throw away from Olympic Stadium, a former Olympique de Marseille player is being trained by a coach coming from the Olympique Lyonnais’ school of football. Center back Rod Fanni, officially announced yesterday by the Montreal Impact, joins head coach Rémi Garde and his team, and although both know each other by reputation, the first real meeting was done over the phone a few weeks ago.

“If I’m here right now, it’s largely thanks to Mister Garde,” said Fanni. “We spent years in the same league, so we know each other quite well already. Our first contact was way before the unfortunate injury to Zakaria Diallo. I was already motivated to come here, and the club wanted me to join the Impact as well. I hope to give my best and use my experience to help this project moving forward.”

“He was a player I wanted to recruit even before Zakaria’s injury,” said head coach Rémi Garde. “We were already thin in central defense with only two center backs. His arrival is even more crucial now with Zakaria out of the picture. I don’t think there’s a need to introduce Rod anymore. He’s a player with a lot of experience and serenity, who is very calm and determined, with many qualities. I didn’t know him personally, but the world of football is small, so I started obtaining information. I’m very happy to be able to count on him. During our first phone calls, he got decided quickly, and I felt a sincere motivation on his end to join us.”

During his career, the Bleu-blanc-noir’s new number 15 played 362 games in Ligue 1, 158 of those with Marseilles, and 557 games in all competitions. This extensive experience will help him integrate into MLS without too many hurdles; he even spoke to a few friends that had already travelled to this side of the Atlantic for the beautiful game.

“I’m approaching this new adventure with a lot of enthusiasm and happiness,” admitted Fanni. “People have been talking to me about this league for quite a while. I have many friends that played here, whether it be Thierry Henry, Didier Drogba, Péguy Luyindula, Romain Alessandrini…they’ve told me many good things about MLS, and it’s interesting to find myself here now.”

After the Impact signed the Frenchman of Beninese origin, several people reacted to his age. However, at 36 years old, Fanni is still in excellent shape.

“I think his fitness level is excellent,” evaluated Garde. “On that end, he could even be an example among my players. I know I’ve recruited a player who, I hope, will be ready quickly, despite his 36 years of age, thanks to his professionalism and to the number of games he’s played. I’d like to remind you that he started 30 games with Marseilles last year, which isn’t nothing.”

Fanni is also staying realistic regarding his debut with the Bleu-blanc-noir.

“It’s important to do things right, to not rush anything,” explained the defender. “It’s also important to be ready instead of speeding things up and making mistakes. We’re going to take the necessary time and see where we are this week. On my end, I’ve been training, it’s normal. We’ll move forward slowly.”