Paul Pogba rises from distrusted at Man United to the main man for Juve and France, all with some motherly support
BUSSY-SAINT-GEORGES, FRANCE // Yeo Moriba laughed as she recalled her showdown with Alex Ferguson, one of many confrontations with football authority over the future of her son Paul Pogba.
Ferguson was notorious for his ‘hairdryer’ blasts at players in the Manchester United dressing room and the proud mother told AFP how the tough manager had once left her son in tears in his office.
That may be why Pogba, 23, escaped the clutches of United to join Juventus. The France midfielder will be one of the most watched players at the European Championship finals.
After three years struggling for a first team place, Pogba refused to sign a new contract at United in 2012.
Ferguson took matters into his own hands and decided to confront Moriba, who acts as her son’s agent, manager and advisor as well as her two other twin sons Florentin and Mathias.
“I said: ‘What? Ferguson coming to my house! He came alone’,” Moriba said.
“We had got together with his brothers and we decided: he won’t re-sign.
“Ferguson punished him, he didn’t play him, Paul was alone. He even cried in Ferguson’s office over the way he was treated.”
Pogba was upset that Paul Scholes had been tempted out of his six-month retirement in January 2012 to rescue a United midfield in the grips of an injury crisis.
Only 18 years old at the time and with just a couple of substitute appearances to his name in the League Cup, Pogba felt he should have been given his chance.
Although he made three substitute appearances in the Premier League after Scholes’s return, he was determined to leave.
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Pogba and his mother were proved right. The player became an instant hit in Turin.
“Nowadays you’d have to say I know a bit about football, you can’t fool me,” Moriba said.
“I’m asked for advice, that’s all. All three respect me, and they listen to me.”
Moriba’s defiance in France sent Pogba into the clutches of the Premier League giants in the first place.
Pogba came through the youth ranks at Le Havre but at 15 was tempted to United, who offered a better deal than the French club.
The club presidents union, led by Lyon supremo Jean-Michel Aulas tried to put pressure on Pogba to stay in France, saying leaving for abroad would set a bad example.
“I didn’t appreciate them trying to look down at us. I raised my voice, they found that weird,” Moriba said.
With another young French prospect, Gael Kakuta, heading for Chelsea at the same time, the French press cried scandal at the motives of the young players.
“I was shocked,” she said. “They wrote that I was given a house over there, but that was wrong. I was accused of selling my child.”
Moriba said she always encouraged her sons to play football. Paul Pogba was always the most talented but all three were also good table-tennis players.
“They’ve always played football, always. I used to have to call then four, five times,” she said.
“I’d shout from the balcony: ‘Come home! It’s time’.”
I’ve made a lot of sacrifices for my children.
“(Football) counted a lot in their education because it calmed them down.
“My boys were always moving, they moved too much! When they came back from sport they were exhausted.”
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Published: June 7, 2016 04:00 AM