Paul Pogba has opened up about how winning the World Cup has given him a greater responsibility as a role model.
The midfielder was an indomitable force both on and off the pitch for France in Russia, improving with each game and scoring the winner in the final against Croatia.
He became the first ever Manchester United player to score in a World Cup final.
Speaking to RMC Sport, Pogba made note of how winning the greatest prize in sport has changed the way he will be seen forever.
“We get recognised more,” he said. “The impact of the World Cup is global.”
“People’s way of looking at us has changed. If you want to walk around with your shirt off, you can’t do it anymore anywhere in the world.
“Hugo’s example can serve us well. Something that happens in your private life will come out and make a bit more noise because you’re world champion. It’s a human being, we’re still human beings. People have to think about that. We are world champions, yes, but we are also human beings.
“After this World Cup, children will have the image that we had after the 1998 World Cup. We’ll be role models for those children. That’s why we have to be an example. Even if you don’t want to, you have to be an example. You will always have that image of a footballer who won the World Cup.”
A World Cup winner develops a kind of transcendental status. Their names are forever etched in the minds of millions of French who will remember that summer fondly. For those who were old enough in 1998 they will be elevated to the status of Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Viera.
Around the world, they will be recognised first as a world champion, and anything else second. And with that comes an element of status, of being different from the rest. A generation will look up to them. The next generation will hear about them. Pogba is right to point out that things will never be the same again.