Paul Pogba has said he is inspired by Andrea Pirlo’s example when playing alongside the midfield maestro for Juventus.
In an exclusive interview with the BBC, the 21-year-old revealed both the origins of his love of football and how he hopes to improve in the future by learning from his midfield peers.
The Frenchman arrived in Turin from Manchester United at the tender age of 19, but he began by recounting how his fascination with the world of football had been strong long before then.
“I started when I was little. My dad used to be a coach and also to play football before. So I always had a ball at home and I used to kick it when I was young – it all started from there.
“I’ve always loved football ever since I used to watch cassette tapes of Pele and Maradona.”
The midfielder went on to describe the experience of working alongside such an established guiding light as his team-mate Andrea Pirlo.
“Being with Pirlo is just great – you learn every day with him and you just enjoy your football when you see him play. He’s been a top player for many years now and when you watch him you just want to be like him!”
But a humble Pogba then admitted that there’s a long way to go yet before he reaches the levels of the maestro.
“I think I need to work my offensive headers because with my height I could score more goals from corner kicks. I think I need to improve on everything though – that’s what you need to do to be a complete player.”
Next on the agenda was an assessment of his trajectory so far. After an already sparkling career in the black and white stripes that has seen him lift two Scudetto titles, he said he couldn’t be happier with how things continue to pan out.
“I’ve made a great decision coming here from Manchester United. I’m thankful to them every day because that’s where I gained the experience that prepared me for training with big players like Pirlo, Vidal, Marchisio and Buffon. I’m grateful to United but now I’m at Juventus and I’m happy here.”
After captaining the national Under 20 side to World Cup glory in the summer of 2013, the next step in Pogba’s path is this year’s senior World Cup, and it was his hopes of experiencing the greatest show on earth under former Juve boss Didier Deschamps that he dedicated his final words to.
“It’s a dream to be involved in the World Cup with the senior side. We’re a good group and we get on out there on the pitch.
“When the coach is an ex-player I think it’s easier for the us because he understands us better. He can give me great advice, even more so because he used to play in the same position as me and he knows what comes with it. That’s something that can help a player like me.”