France midfielder Paul Pogba told his teammates they had to “make France explode with joy” ahead of their 4-2 World Cup win against Croatia on Sunday.
Pogba, 25, scored what was ultimately the winning goal for France as they secured the country’s second-ever trophy on football’s biggest stage, while becoming the first Manchester United player to win the World Cup since 1966.
After match, Pogba told TF1: “The second star has settled very nicely next to the first one. She is there and very beautiful. I hope that France is thrilled and proud of us! Thank you, again. Honestly, it is amazing — a childhood dream was realised today. I have no voice left.
“Before the match, I told everybody that we were ’90 minutes away from realising our dream to enter history for life’ and ‘make France explode with joy — we can and must do it!’ There were two teams and a cup and we would not let the other team take the cup. The result was superb!”
Antoine Griezmann, who put France ahead from the penalty spot, said he was overwhelmed by the result.
“I do not know where I am! I am really happy,” he said. “It was a very difficult match, Croatia had a great game. We came back and we managed to make the difference.
“We cannot wait to lift the cup and bring it back to France.”
Kylian Mbappe, who scored his fourth goal at the World Cup in the final, was also beside himself with joy after the match and dedicated the victory in large part to the French people.
Mbappe’s goal helped him earn the best young player of the tournament trophy and made the 19-year-old only the second player in World Cup history along with Pele to score in the final as a teenager.
“I am very happy. I stated my collective ambition at the start of this World Cup was to win it and the road was long,” Mbappe said. “We are world champions and very proud of that. The life of world champions is the life that we wanted for ourselves. We are proud to have made the French people happy and we were aware that we had this role to help them forget about their problems.
“Being the first champion since Pele to be younger than 20? That is great. We play for these sorts of things. I always said that I did not want to simply exist in football — being a world champion is great and a passport to working even harder and doing even better — even if things are already good!
“My goal? It was great, especially as it enabled us to really take flight and open up a sizeable lead.”
Captain Hugo Lloris had a solid night in goal, although he did have one gaffe that led directly to Croatia’s second goal, when he misplayed it out of the back and was pickpocketed by Mario Mandzukic whose first touch went right into the back of the net.
Following the match, though, the Tottenham goalkeeper downplayed the significance of his blunder and focused on the positives from his team, while adding he was ready to start the celebrations in the dressing room.
He said: “My mates have had a few drinks more than me because I was undergoing a doping test, but hey, I will soon catch up! We cannot wait until Monday, to be back in France and celebrating. It is nice to see the French people so united, smiling, crying and full of joy — that is how we like to see our country! Football has the power to do this.
“We managed to do things well. We were very deserving and we can be proud of what we did. My error? The most important thing was the save at 1-1. At 4-1, we dropped off a little. It is anecdotal and we will enjoy ourselves now. Lifting the World Cup, as captain, is a great privilege. I thank all of my teammates for enabling me to hoist the trophy. My family were in the stands too. We play football and with great success — I am moved.”
Chelsea frontman Olivier Giroud, who played a crucial role for France throughout the tournament despite being held without a goal, admitted he would have to make good on a promise regarding his hair style after France secured the trophy.
“We celebrated in the dressing room with President Macron, Vladimir Putin and the President of Croatia. We enjoyed ourselves!” Giroud said. “The dressing room atmosphere is euphoric and I cannot wait to get back to it. I was on the bench with the guys for the final 10 minutes and we did not realise at that moment. We wanted to avoid getting up too early!
“In extra time, we got up, and I ran everywhere after that. I had Adil [Rami] in my arms and we were rolling around on the pitch. Honestly, I cracked. There was so much emotion — it was a childhood dream and it took so much hard work to get there. Together, as a squad and with the staff, we have done something extraordinary — we are so proud.
“We have written a beautiful page in French football history. I promised to shave my head if we were crowned world champions, so I will do that after the baptism of my child on July 22.”
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