PARIS: Dimitri Payet left the field in tears of joy after scoring the sensational last-gasp goal in France’s 2-1 win over Romania to launch their European Championship campaign in style on Friday.
“It was a lot of stress, a lot of pressure, if someone had told me it would have gone like that I don’t think I would have believed them,” said Payet.
“It was that emotion that came out in the goal,” added the 29-year-old who has broken into the France team this year after a stunning season with West Ham United in the English Premier League.
Payet was France’s standout performer throughout as he also set up Olivier Giroud’s opening goal.
“At the start of the season, a lot of people would have found it hard to believe I would be here,” said the attacking midfielder.
“I have got here by working hard,” added the hero of the night, who is determined to “soak up the experience” of playing in Euro 2016.
France striker Olivier Giroud hopes that he has silenced the “mudslingers” who jeered him and questioned whether he’s good enough for international football.
With coach Didier Deschamps leaving out Karim Benzema from his Euro 2016 squad — the Real Madrid striker is under investigation for his part in a blackmail scam — all eyes were on Giroud.
Two weeks ago, he was booed off the pitch despite scoring in a 3-2 win against Cameroon. On Friday, he scored France’s opening goal against Romania as Les Bleus overcame a jittery performance to win 2-1. It was his eighth goal in the past eight games for France, taking his tally to 18. “My statistics speak for themselves. Several people have told me that I play better through adversity, but I don’t always want to have to be fighting against the mudslingers,” Giroud said.