Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery insists he is not a dirty player and claims the opposition are targeting him “like never before.”
The former France international has come under the microscope this season following four separate incidents where he struck out at opponents in German football.
But Ribery has defended himself against accusations of “unfair” play by stating that other teams are going out of their way to provoke him into doing something silly.
“I know only too well that I need to watch my step. But I want to stress once again that I’m not an unfair player,” the 33-year-old told Sport Bild.
“Since all the talk about me started, I’ve actually got the feeling that opponents are trying even harder to provoke me.
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“I’m a big-name player – opponents know that these duels are being closely watched – so they try everything in their power to stop me. This season, I’m being kicked, fouled and attacked like never before.
“Perhaps, sometimes I do lose the plot for an instant. But only when I feel that my opponent is only intent on injuring me.
“I don’t have anything against fair tackling and challenges, but when I get the impression that it’s all about roughness to remove me from the game then I defend myself.
“Believe me, I don’t want to hurt anybody in these moments and a minute later it’s all forgotten about.”