Cape Town - France and Manchester
United midfielder Paul Pogba has said in an interview that his
international team-mates give him the freedom to express himself and be
the team's leader.
READ: Mourinho has backing of fans and club - Moyes
Pogba has faced criticism for failing to repeat
his impressive performances at the World Cup for United, who have
slumped early in the season.
The subject of Pogba's reportedly fraught relationship
with United boss Jose Mourinho was strictly off the table for the
interview at France's international training base.
difficult start in the Premier League all seems a long away from
France's glory in Russia, but reunited again with his France team-mates,
Pogba was happy to recall that defender Adil Rami had described him as
the team's "real leader" at the World Cup.
"It really pleased me
to hear Adil say that," Pogba told AFP. "I would never say it's me, it's
the squad who put me in that position, who gave me the freedom to
express myself. They gave me confidence as well.
"I couldn't have
done it without them. It all began like that, from our training camp. I
spoke with Hugo (Lloris), Blaise (Matuidi), (Raphael) Varane, to say
that this World Cup we really had to put everything in place to win it. I
was really determined."
Pogba made his France debut in 2013, and has racked up 62 caps while appearing at three major tournaments.
my age, 25 years old, I'm between the two sets of players, the oldest
and the youngest. That allows me to relay messages and have the chance
to be heard," he said.
"I could say what I felt, give messages and
pass them on from the older players to the younger ones. I was the
go-between you could say."
Iceland in a friendly in Guingamp on Thursday and resume their Nations
League campaign with a return clash at home to Germany on October 16,
following a 0-0 draw in Munich last month.
Despite taking on a key
leadership role at the World Cup, a growing rift between Pogba and
Mourinho saw the France international stripped of the United
vice-captaincy last month.
He said the France captaincy was not one of his main goals.
"I've never played in the France team to be captain, being here is already a big thing for me," he said.
don't have to be captain in order to speak, a leader is not someone who
has the armband. As a leader you can talk on the pitch but I've seen
leaders who didn't necessarily talk."
He cited former Italy
midfielder Andrea Pirlo, a team-mate of Pogba's at Juventus, as someone
who could be relied upon to "show you the way on the pitch".
was one of six players in Didier Deschamps' squad to be nominated for
the Ballon d'Or on Monday, and he believes the prize should go to one of
his France team-mates.
"It's all I hope for whatever happens, because there are a lot of them who deserve it," he said.
"I'm not going to get into it, whether it's (Antoine) Griezmann, Kylian (Mbappe) or Raphael who deserve it much more than me.
can't pick one of them, but I sincerely hope it'll be one of those
three, or even four because there's also NG (N'Golo Kante)."