Sports / Soccer

Mom knows best

By Agence France Presse in Bussysaintgeorges,france (China Daily) Updated: 2016-06-08 08:03

Showdown with Fergie cemented Moriba's fame

Yeo Moriba laughed as she recalled her showdown with the fearsome Alex Ferguson, one of many confrontations with soccer 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 mom recalled how the tough manager once left her son in tears in his office.

And that may be why Pogba escaped the clutches of the Red Devils to join Juventus. The 23-year-old French midfielder will be one of the most watched players at the European Championship finals.

After three years struggling to be a starter at United, Pogba balked at a new contract offer in 2012.

Ferguson took matters into his own hands and decided to confront Moriba, who acts as her son's agent, manager and adviser. She fills the same role with Paul's twin brothers, Florentin and Mathias, who play for Guinea.

"I said: 'What? Ferguson coming to my house! He came alone'," said Moriba, laughing heartily.

Ferguson left disappointed.

"Paul and I got together with his brothers and we decided he would not re-sign," said Moriba.

"Ferguson punished him. He didn't play him, and 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 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' return, he was determined to leave.

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 soccer, you can't fool me," said Moriba, although she denies any official role as her sons' manager.

"I'm asked for advice, that's all. They respect me and listen to me."

Moriba's defiance in France sent Pogba into the clutches of the English Premier League giant in the first place.

Pogba came through the youth ranks at Le Havre but at 15 was seduced by United, which offered a better deal than the industry standard agreement proposed by 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 England would set a bad example.

Moriba was summoned to a meeting with Aulas.

"I didn't appreciate them trying to look down at us. I raised my voice - they found that weird," said Moriba, still amused by the reaction.

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.

Moriba did not appreciate the criticism.

"I was shocked," she said. "They wrote that I was given a house over there, but that was totally wrong.

"I was even accused of selling my child!"

Shouting from balcony

Moriba said she always encouraged her sons to play soccer. Paul was always the most talented, but all three were also good table tennis players.

"They've always played soccer, always. I used to have to call then four, five times to come in for meals," she said.

"I'd shout from the balcony: 'Come home! It's time'."

In a more serious tone she added: "I've made a lot of sacrifices for my children.

"Soccer counted a lot in their education because it calmed them down, made them think.

"My boys were always moving, they moved too much! When they came back from playing sport they were always exhausted."

Now the family's future is secure.

Paul has been linked to huge transfers to Spain and even back to Manchester United, which now has Jose Mourinho at its helm.

Brother Florentin plays for Saint-Etienne in the French top flight while Mathias is at Partick Thistle in Scotland.

The twins both play for Guinea, their parents home and where they were born, although they grew up in the Paris suburbs.

Moriba keeps a special eye on her youngest son and his image. Paul has made a name for himself almost as much for his extravagant hairstyles as his soccer ability.

"Paul's haircuts, those come from me," she said with a laugh.

 Mom knows best

France's Paul Pogba works out at Domaine de Montjoye on Monday. Pogba's mother serves as his manager and agent.Charles Platiau / Reuters



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