Paul Pogba has invited his critics to speak up after the Frenchman played a central role in his country’s World Cup final win over Croatia on Sunday.
The 25-year-old has never escaped scrutiny and derision since joining Manchester United two years ago, often serving as the scapegoat for poor results last season.
But all of that became irrelevant against Croatia, with Pogba starting and finishing the goal that ultimately proved to be France’s winner to crown a truly sublime performance in the middle.
Speaking after the game, Pogba asked why his critics, all of a sudden, had stopped talking, and invited them to join him in celebrating winning the biggest prize available in sport.
Pogba, with the Moscow rain dramatically pouring down over him, took a moment away from his teammates amid the celebrations and – in similar fashion to Jose Mourinho in Stockholm – turned to face the media section in the Luzhniki Stadium.
Pogba…”Souness you’re all talk…I can’t hear you…come onto the pitch now…” pic.twitter.com/0zHI9CjFvD
— Max Mufc (@maxmufc7) July 15, 2018
The 25-year-old does not have the capacity to hate people. He could never dedicate himself to a life of putting down others like many in the media and public eye. To him, everyone is a brother, and those other 22 French players will be cemented in his heart forever like family. This achievement is beautiful because it was shared.
But while Pogba conquered the world because of what he did on the pitch with his teammates, it is impossible to ignore the role of the media’s probing, spiky, admonishing voice in all of this. Every step taken has been followed by a media whose narrative around this midfielder is unparalleled.
That won’t change. Pogba knows that. But nothing can ever take away his status as World Champion.