Friday, January 6, 2017

Pogba: I'm very proud of Griezmann

Pogba: I'm very proud
of Griezmann
06 Jan 2017

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Paul Pogba is certainly one of France's best. After
captaining his side to FIFA U-20 World Cup glory
in 2013, he has since stepped up to represent his
country at the highest level, featuring at the 2014
FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil and reaching the final
of UEFA EURO 2016 in his homeland. The 23-
year-old has also represented Les Bleus admirably
by becoming one of the world's standout
midfielders at club level, winning four consecutive
Serie A titles with Juventus before becoming the
most expensive player on the planet with a multi-
million pound move to Manchester United last
The imposing midfielder is emblematic of a new
generation of French talent, perhaps the finest
collection of players since ​the country hosted and
won the 1998 World Cup, led by one of Pogba's
idols Zinedine Zidane. Like his friend and France
team-mate Antoine Griezmann, the Manchester
United man was nominated for The Best FIFA
Men's Player, making the shortlist of 23.
The Atleti forward went one step further though,
making it into the final three, alongside Cristiano
Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Pogba sat down with
FIFA.com to discuss Grizou's chances of usurping
Ronaldo and Messi, as well as discussing Zidane,
a nominee for The Best FIFA Men's Coach Award,
and giving his take on the FIFA Puskás Award
FIFA.com: Antoine Griezmann has been
nominated for The Best Men’s Player award
alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi –
how does it feel to see a French national team-
mate, and friend, up for such an award?
Paul Pogba: I’m very proud of him. I know what
he’s been through. When he arrived at Atletico
Madrid the first year, he wasn’t playing all the
time, he was on the bench. He talked to me,
saying he was frustrated, that it was hard as he
wasn’t playing. After that he kept working hard,
and now he’s one of the three nominees for The
Best award. I’m very happy for him, especially to
see a French player doing so well. You can see
the French players are going back to the basics,
like our predecessors.
What would you say are Griezmann’s main
I think it’s his finishing. He wasn’t a striker
before but now he scores so many goals. He’s
very clever and he plays with his body. He’s not
that big, he’s small, he’s fast and agile and he
scores goals. That makes him Griezmann, the
very good player that he is.
What’s he like in the dressing room?
You would be surprised! He’s one of the funniest
guys I’ve met and played with. He is someone
who always has fun in training, he works hard but
with pleasure, as a game. We have fun. He
sometimes goes in goal, doing some amazing
saves, other times he’ll act like he’s Didier
Drogba, holding the ball up.
You often show some impressive dance moves on
social media, what about Antoine?
He’s got something! (laughs). He’s got some
moves. But he won’t show it! He doesn’t want
me to say it, he’s someone who doesn’t want to
show his skills. He's a good dancer for sure.
As far as goal celebrations go, you seem to have
made 'the dab' your own. What do you make of
Griezmann's goal celebrations?
You know what? His ['Hotline Bling' goal
celebration at EURO 2016] was special because
he was the only one to do it. But my dab was
more powerful around the world than his ‘Hotline
Bling’ celebration. To be honest though, even I
was doing his ‘Hotline Bling’! I think that shows
it’s good... (laughs)
Messi and Ronaldo have shared the top award
between them since 2008. When do you see an
end to their dominance?
When they stop scoring goals, and they stop
playing at the level that they are – or when you
have other players who will play as well as them,
or even better. Even if they are as good as
Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, the style, the
way they play, the way they act off the pitch, it’s
more than football now, I would say. When you
have someone who can go above them, into that
level on the pitch and outside the pitch that’s
when it will happen. I don’t know when though
because they’re still at the highest level.
This is football, I love seeing them play, I love
seeing them score goals, they make me love
football even more. When I see them, it makes me
improve even more. It makes me want to try to
catch them.
Who do you think can break up their hold on the
Of course, there are other players who can do
that. We have Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] at Manchester
United. Even he could do it. He’s 35 years old,
but the way he’s playing, the way he’s scoring
goals, you can see that he’s been in the top level
for more than ten years. [Eden] Hazard, Neymar,
[Luis] Suarez are doing so well and scoring goals,
these are great players who – if they keep scoring
– can do that. They need to keep scoring though,
because that’s the case with Cristiano and Messi,
whose performances are always on top.
You were on the shortlist of 23 again for The
Best this year. How close do you feel you are to
being in the final three?
I’m still far away. It’s good to be in the top ten,
five or three but that’s not really what I’m about.
If I’m in the top three, I want to be the number
one – so that means I’m still very far away. I
have to keep working hard and playing well
because I don’t like to be second, or third, they’re
the worst places to be. You would be proud, of
course, because it means you’re on the way, but
you want to finish first.
Another Frenchman, Zinedine Zidane, is
nominated for The Best Men’s Coach this year.
How much of an idol was he for you growing up?
I admire him a lot. When I was younger, I was
watching his videos, the way he was playing. I
love big players, but there are some players who
have something extra. On the pitch you have 11
players, in the squad, 22, and you see only one or
two. You always see him doing something
special, the way he’s playing, it’s beautiful to
see. Ronaldinho was the same, these are players
who have something special – he has that. I was
always watching him. The ball was in one place
but I was always looking for Zidane.
You were just five years old when he scored his
headers in the 1998 World Cup Final against
Brazil. How much of that tournament do you
Zidane was Zidane. He saved France. Everybody
was talking about Zidane. But we don’t often
speak about [Fabien] Barthez, and [Lilian]
Thuram’s goals [in the semi-final against
Croatia]. They had a very good team, they were
complete. We speak about Zidane because he
scored those two headers in the final. To be
honest, I would applaud the other players as well.
He once said that you could “become one of the
best players ever.” How does it feel to receive
praise like that from him?
When somebody like that says something like
that, you flop and go down to the floor! You have
to be positive and take it in a good way. You
have to be focused because if you go in the other
direction, backwards, people will say: “ah, now,
you see – people were speaking about him in that
way, and look where he is.” You have to be
focused, know where you want to go. I have my
goals, and I won’t stop until I reach them.
You’ve scored some spectacular goals in your
time, so you’re well-placed to give your
judgement. Which of the three FIFA Puskás
Award finalists would you vote for, and why?
Because she’s playing at U-17 level, scoring such
a beautiful solo goal, I would say my vote would
go to Daniuska [Rodriguez]. The free kick, and the
overhead kick are both brilliant, but I’d go for
Are there any goals you’ve scored which you
think are worthy of being nominated for the
Puskàs Award?
If it was the Pogba Award, instead of the Puskas
Award? (laughs). Third place, because of the
technique, would be my volley against Swansea.
This is because of the technique, it wasn’t easy
(laughs). ( Editor's note: in Manchester United's
3-1 win against Swansea, 6 November 2016 ).
Second one, against Napoli for Juventus. I missed
my touch first, the ball went high and I smashed
it in (Editor's note: in a 3-0 win against Napoli,
10 November 2013 ). The first one, my favourite,
was against Udinese. Look it up! (Editor's note:
in a 4-0 win, 19 January 2013).

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