Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has revealed that he actually grew up an Arsenal fan before switching allegiances, citing the Gunners’ core of French players in the late 1990s and early 2000s as the reason why.
Pogba was born in an eastern suburb of Paris in a family hailing from Guinea. During his younger years, a number of the French national team played their club football for Arsenal and so there was an obvious reason for him to start following them.
Around that time, Arsenal had Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires and Sylvain Wiltord, all of whom had Euro 2000 with France, and three of whom were also 1998 World Cup winners.
“I will be honest. So, at the start, I was an Arsenal fan – obviously because of all the French players, you know,” Pogba told Manchester United’s official podcast.
“Me and my brother were but my other brother was a Manchester United fan. I couldn’t say anything so I used to love Henry and, because of him, I was an Arsenal fan.
“Then I changed and went with the other one, the United fan!”
As well as Henry, Pogba also revealed which other players he enjoyed watching most when he was growing up, including an ex-Liverpool striker among a list of superstars.
“I had Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, [Zinedine] Zidane, Thierry Henry, Djibril Cisse, Kaka,” he said.
Having started to make a name for himself in the youth ranks at Le Havre on France’s north coast, Pogba first joined United as a 16-year-old in 2009.
Frustrated by a lack of first-team chances, perhaps in part due to Paul Scholes’ longevity, he left to join Juventus when his contract expired in 2012 and returned for £89m four years later.