Paul Pogba has admitted he was an Arsenal fan as a kid – because Arsene Wenger’s squad was jam-packed with French talent.
The Manchester United midfielder, who lifted the World Cup with Les Bleus last summer, learned his trade playing on the streets of his hometown, Lagny-sur-Marne.
Paul Pogba spoke about his love of Arsenal as a child in a new podcast with The Times
Pogba was a fan of Thierry Henry and the French stars who played under Arsene Wenger
‘I was an Arsenal fan,’ he told The Times’ new Life Times podcast.
‘Arsenal and the French national team. I really loved the 1999-00 team. You know with Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, (Sylvain) Wiltord, (Robert) Pires.’
Henry and Vieira were both Arsenal players in 1999, with Wenger adding Wiltord and Pires to his French contingent the following year.
They went on to win a Premier League and FA Cup double in 2001-02, with Henry winning back-to-back PFA Player of the Year awards in 2003 and 2004.
‘I loved Thierry Henry,’ Pogba added. ‘Ronaldo, Henry, Djibril Cisse… (Gabriel) Batistuta I used to watch.
Pogba tussles with Turkey’s Kenan Karaman during France’s 2-0 defeat on Saturday evening
The Manchester United man followed Arsenal when they had Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires
‘I was a really selfish player (laughs). At the time I was a striker, No 9. Then I went back and back and finished in the middle. The pitch was hard, cement. You better not fall!’
Asked if he idolised Henry or Vieira while supporting Arsenal, Pogba said: ‘I was No 10 at the time. I was playing free so still watching Zidane, Ronaldinho.
‘I was more into them, you know? I loved to dribble, I was very selfish. I was a very selfsh player – I’m glad I changed!
‘Now they (my friends) can’t believe that I pass the ball! I was a very bad loser and I wanted to score goals. I still am.
‘I used to cry a lot as a kid. When I’d lose, I used to cry a lot. I wouldn’t talk for two days, depending on how much I lose (by) and if I played good or bad.’