Ex-Manchester United youngster Paul Pogba admits to doing what very few Red Devils have done before him – standing up to Sir Alex Ferguson.
The midfielder let his contract run down at Old Trafford to join Serie A giants Juventus, where he has made 27 league appearances in a breakout season.
Though Pogba alleges Ferguson tried to change his mind by warning of Italy’s racism issues, the Frenchman’s only thought was to gain more playing time.
“I never disrespected Sir Alex Ferguson, if anything it is the opposite, because I said things to his face,” he told France Football.
“When I knew of Paul Scholes’ return I understood that I would find it difficult to play and that I had to leave United.
“Ferguson told me that in Italy there is a lot of racism and that the fans were not like the Premier League’s. I told him that there was no problem for me, so I ended up on the team’s fringes.
“If you want to play at Manchester just to be able to say ‘I play at United’, even though you’re on the bench, are you happy?
“I came on a few times, I played in the cups, but I wanted to have more playing time. If I could have played in China, I would have gone to China.”
As well as an upturn in fortune domestically, Pogba earned his first caps from France coach Didier Deschamps during the 2012/13 campaign.
And the 20-year-old jumped to the challenge after Juve coach Antonio Conte convinced him that youth would be no barrier to the first-team should he impress enough to secure a place.
“Conte told me: ‘With me, there’s no youth, it’s the best who plays’,” added Pogba. “’If you think you can establish yourself here, come, and we’ll see if you’re able to do it, show us what you can do.’
“I like being given challenges like that. I like indirect provocation.”
Picture courtesy of Станислав Ведмидь, via Wiki Commons, with thanks.