Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has posted an emotional message to his followers on social media, after France suffered a shock defeat to Switzerland at Euro 2020.
The French were many people’s favourites to win the competition this summer and particularly after they topped the ‘Group of Death’, which also featured Germany, Portugal and Hungary.
Didier Deschamps’ team were on course to beat Switzerland in their last-16 tie after Pogba scored a world-class goal to earn a 3-1 lead. But then the Swiss miraculously fought back to restore parity at 3-3 and shocked the footballing world by earning an unlikely victory via a penalty shoot-out.
The result on Monday night left the tournament wide open and, while it was a classic match that neutrals enjoyed immensely, it was naturally a devastating experience for our man Pogba.
Using his official Instagram account on Tuesday night, following a period of reflection, Paul posted this message to fans: “Sometimes football can be cruel... cruel and also beautiful.
“The game brought us sadness but happiness to our opponents. That's the beauty of football. Of course we all wish that we could have had a positive result.
“Thank you so much to all of our fans across the globe. It was beautiful to see you, to hear you, and to celebrate with you. You gave us hope and joy throughout all of our games.
“We will keep our heads up and we will come back stronger. Finally, I want to wish congratulations to Switzerland.”
SUPPORT FROM A UNITED LEGEND
Treble winner Andy Cole has leapt to the defence of Pogba after he was criticised in some quarters, despite another outstanding display at Euro 2020.
Although Paul executed some incredible passes, set up two great chances for Kylian Mbappe, scored a sensational goal and converted a perfect spot-kick in the shoot-out, there were still complaints about his contribution from the ITV panel, featuring Patrick Vieira, Roy Keane and Gary Neville.
“He was brilliant,” says Cole. “He proved to everyone just how good a player he is. Yeah, you’re still going to have people question him. A lot of people try to blame him for the third goal but I can’t get my head around that. If you lose the ball in their half, trying to create something, and then they run basically half the pitch to score a goal, that means his team-mates didn’t help him particularly well. If you’re going to blame him for that goal... it is what it is, but he proved just how good a player he is.
“Watching Pogba – oh my days,” he enthused. “If a midfield player of that calibre is going to take risks, you have to take risks. He’s got people like Kante and believes the back four are going to do things whereby he can make certain decisions in the midfield. For 45 minutes [on Monday], I watched him and felt this is a top, top drawer midfield player.
“You can talk about he gave the ball away, but we all give the ball away. Mbappe missed a great chance when he should have gone inside on his right foot – has anyone mentioned that? It’s a Paul Pogba thing, I think. It was definitely a brilliant penalty too – he did everything well.
“I think he’ll be bitterly disappointed. With the performance he put in as well, I thought he was brilliant. I listened to some of the comments and people were trying to [laughs]… I genuinely believed football was a team game. I genuinely did believe there were 11 players out there. I listened to everyone and the only player who was to blame was Paul Pogba. I thought he was brilliant: his passing throughout the tournament was absolutely immense; his creativity, his goal was top, top drawer.
“We can all sit here and pick up on people’s negatives and what they didn’t do. Let’s talk about his positives and what he did do. France have gone out, yeah, and were the better team. But, when it goes to penalties, it’s a lottery and they weren’t good enough on penalties.”