France defender Adil Rami has hailed Paul Pogba for acting as “the strong man of the France team” during their World Cup final win over Croatia on Sunday.
The 25-year-old gave the performance of his life on the biggest of stages, blasting home the winner in the second half and battling like a warrior at the other end of the pitch.
His precision on the ball and strength at the back, underpinned by that trademark raw confidence, drove France forward and deservedly won him the ‘Man of the Match’ award.
Speaking after the game, Rami, whose moustache teammates touched for good luck, spoke effusively of Pogba, and how this performance marked the moment he became not just a technical player but a leader as well.
“He’s a technical player, he has a lot of talent. He was able to battle defensively. Everyone loves players who do tricks, nutmegs, flicks. I can tell you that Paul, today, became a leader. He’s the one that showed the way.
“He was the strong man of the France team.”
For Pogba, this was a moment which invalidated all which had come before: the ceaseless attacks from pundits and the press and punters and even supporters, the cold shoulders from Jose Mourinho towards the start of the year, the questions around his role at Old Trafford, the widely held belief that, for all his talent, Pogba’s mercuriality and eccentricity precluded him from being one of the very best.
All of that will continue to sprout up next season, no doubt. There will always be a group of individuals who cannot stomach the otherworldly success of a young, black, rich, outgoing muslim living his very best life.
But that doesn’t matter. Those voices will fade away and be forgotten, like coffee stains on a table. What will endure forever is the sight of Paul Labile Pogba lifting the World Cup, the pinnacle of sport itself. Nobody will ever be able to take that away from him.