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16th Jul 2018

Paul Pogba has given his World Cup medal to the person who most deserves it

Patrick McCarry

No, not Jose Mourinho.

A nice touch from Paul Pogba here.

Ahead of the World Cup, Pogba came out and put it all on the line when he told ESPN:

“I hope now, at the World Cup, I’m going to take the reins of the France team, try to be the boss on and off the pitch.”

Such a bold claim did not look to be transpiring, first, when sections of the French crowd booed him in their final World Cup warm-up – a victory over Italy. France started slowly at the tournament too but kept picking up results and, when they eliminated France, some believers too.

When they took out Uruguay and then Belgium, in the semis, they were installed as favourites for the final clash with Croatia. On Sunday, in Moscow, they may have got a couple of favourable decisions but France lived up to the billing.

Antoine Griezmann got the Fifa man-of-the-match award but, for us, Pogba was the best player on the pitch. He shut down plenty of Croatia attacks, showed off his remarkable array of passing, fouled when he had to foul, made defensive clearances and scored his side’s third goal.

Following that goal, Pogba danced for several seconds after his initial celebratory burst. As, over on ITV, Roy Keane put it:

“I don’t mind him dancing. He’s just won a World Cup. He can do whatever the hell he wants!”

More veritable truthbombs from the former Manchester United and Ireland captain.

At the final whistle, there were more celebrations as Pogba – now wearing a France jersey with two World Cup winning stars over the crest – revelled in the company of his teammates, coaches, French backroom staff and family members of the squad.

For Pogba, that family was his mother, Yeo Moriba, and his brothers Florentin and Mathias.

Pogba credits his mother with helping him to get to where he is now – one of the world’s most talented, successful and top-earning football stars. In a mother’s day message to Yeo, last year, he wrote:

‘I had the luck to be your son, and I’m proud that you’re my mother, the son’s mother.’

It was Yeo that raised Pogba, and his older brothers, from the age of two, in the Renardiere housing estate in Roissy-en-Brie (Paris), when she separated from his father Antoine. The footballer has spoken, in the past, of the hard work and sacrifices it took from his mother to raise her three boys and help them follow their dreams.

It was Pogba’s mother, of course, that was a driving force behind his 2012 move from Manchester United to Juventus. She famously clashed with then United manager Alex Ferguson. At the time of Pogba’s move to Juve, his mother said:

“We got together with Paul’s brothers and decided that he would not sign a new deal. Ferguson punished him by never playing Paul. He was alone.

“He even cried in Ferguson’s office because of the way he was treated.”

It is fair to say that Ferguson was not a fan of the way Pogba was taking counsel from his family about his playing career before he was firmly established in the first team. Pogba is now back with United and will return, in early August, as a World Cup winner.

He will not return with his World Cup winners’ medal, however. That is in the possession, for the next while at least, of Pogba’s mother.

On the Luzhniki Stadium pitch, after France’s win, he posed for a final photo with the medal draped around his neck before presenting it to his mum and pecking her on the cheek.

It was a lovely moment between mother and son and one, we are sure, they will remember for a long time.

If Pogba is on the look-out for an extra medal, he could ask for one off the official that was helping out Russian president Vladimir Putin in the presentation ceremony after the final.

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