Paul Pogba was 'strong man' of France's World Cup triumph - Adil Rami
Paul Pogba was "the strong man of the France team" in their World Cup final win, veteran defender Adil Rami told L'Equipe in the wake of Les Bleus' triumph in Moscow.
Pogba struck his team's third goal in their 4-2 defeat of Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium to earn France their second World Cup -- 20 years after their first.
Strongly criticised throughout last season with Manchester United and in the build-up to the tournament, Pogba stood out during the World Cup for toning down his characteristically flamboyant style, and instead working tirelessly alongside N'Golo Kante in front of France's back four.
His selfless display in the biggest game of all left Rami, who watched all of France's games in Russia from the bench, very impressed.
"I can tell you that Paul Pogba, I don't know how and I don't know from where, has become a leader. He proved it to us, he showed it," the Marseille centre-back said . "He's a technical player, he has a lot of talent. He was able to battle defensively. Everyone loves players who do tricks, nutmegs, flicks. I can tell you that Paul, today, became a leader. He's the one that showed the way."
He added: "Everyone expects nutmegs and stepovers, but football isn't that. You sweat, you give your body to the cause. There are matches where you have to roll your sleeves up. Some people have understood that and him especially.
"He was the strong man of the France team. Defensively he helped the team. I could talk about everyone, but today, Paul showed maturity. Technique is good, but it's the attitude that is the most important."
While Pogba revealed a previously under-explored side to his game, France's triumphant run transformed some players into household names.
Benjamin Pavard watched some of his teammates finish runners-up at Euro 2016 on TV and only made his senior debut in November. He would almost certainly have started the tournament as second-choice right-back but for an injury to Monaco's Djibril Sidibe late last season. Now he is a World Cup winner.
"Two years ago I was in the fan zone in Lille with my friends. A year ago, I was playing in the German second division," the Stuttgart defender, who has become a cult figure among French fans, told TF1. "I have come out of nowhere, as the song about me says. I still haven't fully realised what we have done. It's great. During the game, when there were two or three minutes left, I shed a few tears."
The victory of Didier Deschamps' men naturally sparked delirium back home. Some 90,000 people packed into a fan zone in front of the Eiffel Tower to watch the game, while thousands then thronged the Champs-Elysees in central Paris to celebrate after it.
A joyous evening turned violent, however, as looters ransacked a shop on the world famous avenue, carrying out wine and champagne, while in Lyon, rioters clashed with police and bins were set in fire in disturbances that rumbled on for a number of hours.