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Paul Pogba Q&A: Juventus & Man Utd influences; France pride; my message to next generation

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has highlighted the impact former teammates Patrice Evra and Andrea Pirlo have had on his career in an extensive Q&A.

Pogba was outstanding for France in their opening Euro 2020 clash against Germany this week, which ended with Les Bleus triumphant. In a career which has seen Pogba move from United to Juventus and back again, Pogba is now aiming to add the European Championship title to the World Cup he won in 2018.


PAUL POGBA Q&A:

What are your earliest memories of playing football growing up?

My first memories are when I started to play with my friends, on the streets and on a small field called the City Stade. It's where everything began.


What style of player were you back in Roissy-en-Brie and do you still have those qualities in your game today?

My style at the beginning felt very personal, I liked the attention and to reach the goal on my own. I didn't like to pass the ball, but I changed quickly. I have always been a winner, I hated to lose and I'm still a sore loser.


What encouragement would you give now as Paul the (FIFA) World Cup winner to Paul the boy?

If I were to give encouragement to myself as a boy, the advice I would give him is, "go and seize your dream, don't give up, keep working and you will make your dream come true."


When you were a child, did you ever imagine the success you'd achieve playing for your country was possible?

When I was young, I believed that playing for France was possible. My dream was to win the (FIFA) World Cup and to play for the French team and thank God everything happened. I even got way more than what I asked for when I was young. I am very pleased with what happened to me.


How important is it for you that your national team reflect the things you love about your country and the France you grew up in?

Playing for your national team is an honour for any French person. Playing for your country and winning for your country changes the mentality of people. It makes France happy and it's something that changes the life of the French people.


And what are the things you love about the France you grew up in?

What I love about France is the diversity and the different cultures. Growing up with Chinese people, French people, Franco-Guinean people, Malian people, Senegalese people, Moroccan people. In fact, the culture is beautiful in France – there is a lot of it, and you get a lot of friends from different countries. And that's what I really like in France.


You love to express yourself, whether that's playing football, through your celebrations or when off the pitch. How important is it for people to express themselves for the whole world to see?

To express yourself, you need to be yourself. I like to express myself and to send a message to the people that are off the pitch. They might not know you personally, but you are giving them this message, this little piece of yourself so they can learn about you. Because it's a good thing to give a little bit of yourself.


How did your relationship with the ball teach you how to express yourself more fully?

Well, I always say that the ball is a friend. It helped me to become who I am today, the ball, we have always been together, we are very good mates. And even if sometimes we lose, well I lose, I hate it a little bit but my love for it comes back very quickly.


What is made possible when everyone expresses their true selves?

Honestly, their dreams. When you are yourself, you pursue your chance, you pursue your dream. You know where you are from. I think that these important parts of life will bring you forward.


What message would you give to the next generation about being true to yourself while trying to achieve your dreams?

The message that I would give to the new generation is to hurt themselves. What I mean by 'hurting themselves', is to work hard. To work when it's raining. To not wear any gloves even if it's cold. These little details represent what I mean by 'hurting themselves'. Truly suffering to seize your dream, because nowadays it's true that the youth have a chance that we didn't have back in the day. They need to keep this spite and this desire to succeed, by hurting themselves and by suffering a bit on the road.


What influences have helped shape your identity?

Players shape my identity. Players such as Patrice Évra. Players like Pirlo. Players that I watched as a boy; they were role models for me. They helped me to keep the focus on the ball, to remain humble, to succeed and to seize my dream.

The influences that helped me to become who I am today are, I think my family. My family helped me, my friends, my relatives, my coaches, the staff that were working in my different clubs. They are the people that helped me to become who I am today, to want more, to wish to progress and to become the best.


What influence has being a father had on you - would you encourage your son to eventually follow in your footsteps?

First, the influence it has had over me is that I have even more responsibilities now. You know, being a dad is something that changed my life. I really love football and now I have something that I love even more, which is my family, my children.

It gives me added energy to work and to make him smile. My child, my children, they represent life, they are the new generation, they are the future. And obviously we want to please them all the time, every day. And winning something with my children, just seeing them smile is a victory for me.


Would you encourage your son to eventually follow in your footsteps?

I think that if I can influence my child to play football – for sure he will touch the ball – and if he doesn't see himself becoming a professional player or something, I will respect his choice. But for sure I want him give it a go from an early age.


What was the best piece of advice you have received that has stuck with you throughout playing football and why is it so important to you?

The best advice I received was people telling me that I won't succeed. Being told that I won't succeed is my strength, it's a challenge for me. If you tell me that I can't do something, I will do everything to do it and if in the end I succeed it's a great victory for me.


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