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FIFA World Cup 2018: All you need to know about Paul ‘Pogboom’ Pogba – France’s midfield general

After picking up the ‘Best Young Player’ award at both the 2014 World Cup as well as Euro 2016, Pogba will have his eyes set on football’s highest accolade

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From the fancy haircuts to the powerful long range shots that have left keepers petrified, there’s a lot more to Pogba than meets the eye.

Born to Fassou and Yeo Pogba who migrated to France from Guinea, Pogba picked up his love for the sport from his dad. Fassou Pogba himself played football for Guinea before migrating to Paris and he made sure his sons grew up in a football-friendly environment. Paul’s older twin brothers are professional footballers too who represent Guinea on the international level. His mother would later take on the mantle of mentoring her son and is even credited as being the business brain behind his 89 million pound move back to Manchester United.

Paul began his playing career at the age of six for a local club US Roissy-en-Brie, which was only a stone’s throw away from where he lived. Paul stayed with the club till the age of 13 when US Torcy, a prominent youth academy, came calling. Pogba, who right from a young age knew he wanted to be a professional footballer, didn’t hesitate in making the switch and within a year, he moved again — this time to Le Havre a Ligue 2 side.

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In 2009, Paul made the move to Manchester United where he was immediately slotted into the club’s under-18 side. However, Paul made his first team debut only in 2011. Frustrated by the lack of opportunity, he moved to Juventus in 2012 on a free transfer. He was immediately slotted into the first team at Juventus and it was there that he earned the nickname ‘Pogboom!’ for his aggressive style of play. Fans also took to calling him ‘Poplo Paul’ (Paul the Octopus) for his long legs which he used to his advantage for tackling and running.

Pogba blossomed at Juventus, picking up Europe’s Golden Boy award in 2013, awarded to the best young player on the continent. He spent four glorious years with Juventus, picking up four consecutive Italian League winner medals. He was even awarded the prestigious number 10 shirt in his final season, a number previously sported by club greats such as Alessandro Del Piero, Roberto Baggio and Michel Platini. In 2016, a repentant Manchester United came looking for the playmaker once again. However, by now, Pogba was one of Europe’s most exciting prospects and they had to shell out what was a world record transfer fee of 89 million pounds for his signature.

At the international stage, Paul, who unlike his twin brothers, chose to represent France, made his youth team debut against Wales in 2008. He represented France at under-17 and under-19 levels and in 2013 even captained the under-20 team to France’s first U-20 World Cup title. Paul was awarded with the Golden Ball for his performances in that tournament and it was no surprise that he made his senior team debut that very year. His impressive performances for the senior team even earned him a place in France’s national squad that travelled to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. Despite a quarterfinal exit at the hands of eventual champions Germany, Paul had a great tournament. He scored once against Nigeria in the group stages and was voted as the Best Young Player of the tournament.

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In 2016, Paul represented the national team at the European Championship in France, taking his team right up to the finals which they lost due to a solitary goal against Portugal. Nonetheless, Pogba was voted as the tournament's Best Young Player.

A true box-to-box midfielder, Pogba covers a lot of ground on the pitch, often playing the role of a conduit in the transition from defense to attack. His strong presence on the ball helps his teammates find space while he draws the defenders onto him before unleashing accurate defense splitting through balls.

Pogba’s ability to launch a 40-yard missile towards the goal is another added advantage which France often exploit against teams which choose to sit deep and defend.

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His recent form has been a bit of a worry for the national squad with the midfielder drawing criticism for his poor show in recent pre-tournament warm up matches. However, national team coach Deschamps still has faith in his midfield general who has a knack of turning up in the big games. With N’Golo Kante more than capable of shouldering the defensive responsibilities in the center of the midfield, football lovers could all be excited with a prospect of a rampaging Pogba causing havoc further up the pitch.

Will this be the season that Pogba establishes himself among France’s World Cup winning greats such as Zinedine Zidane and Emmanuel Petit? Good news is that we won’t have to wait too long to find out.
First Published on Jun 9, 2018 04:14 pm
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