The day Paul Pogba’s mother-manager took on Alex Ferguson
Yeo Moriba laughed as she recalled her showdown with the fearsome Alex Ferguson, one of many confrontations with football authority over the future of her son Paul Pogba.football Updated: Jun 07, 2016 11:37 IST
Yeo Moriba laughed as she recalled her showdown with the fearsome Alex Ferguson, one of many confrontations with football authority over the future of her son Paul Pogba.
Ferguson was notorious for his ‘hairdryer’ blasts at players in the Manchester United dressing room and the proud mother told AFP how the tough Scots manager had once left her son in tears in his office.
And that may be why Pogba escaped the clutches of the Red Devils to join Juventus. The 23-year-old French midfielder will be one of the most watched players at the European Championship finals.
After three years struggling for a first team place, Pogba refused to sign a new contract in 2012.
Ferguson took matters into his own hands and decided to confront Moriba, who acts as her son’s agent, manager and advisor as well as her two other twin sons Guinea internationals Florentin and Mathias.
“I said: ‘What? Ferguson coming to my house! He came alone’,” said the mother, laughing heartily again.
Ferguson left alone disappointed.
“We had got together with his brothers and we decided: he won’t re-sign,” added Moriba.
“Ferguson punished him, he didn’t play him, Paul was alone. He even cried in Ferguson’s office over the way he was treated.”
Pogba was upset that Paul Scholes had been tempted out of his six-month retirement in January 2012 to rescue a United midfield in the grips of an injury crisis.
Only 18 at the time and with just a couple of substitute appearances to his name in the League Cup, Pogba felt he should have been given his chance.
Although he made three substitute appearances in the Premier League after Scholes’s return, he was determined to leave.
Pogba and his mother were proved right. The player became an instant hit in Turin.
“Nowadays you’d have to say I know a bit about football, you can’t fool me,” added Yeo, although she denies any official role as her sons’ manager.
“I’m asked for advice, that’s all. All three respect me, and they listen to me.”
Moriba’s defiance in France sent Pogba into the clutches of the English Premier League giants in the first place.
Pogba came through the youth ranks at Le Havre but at 15 was seduced by United, who offered a better deal than the industry standard agreement proposed by the French club.
The club presidents union, led by Lyon supremo Jean-Michel Aulas tried to put pressure on Pogba to stay in France, saying leaving for abroad would set a bad example.
Moriba was called into a meeting with Aulas.
“I didn’t appreciate them trying to look down at us. I raised my voice -- they found that weird,” said Moriba, still amused by the reaction.
With another young French prospect, Gael Kakuta heading for Chelsea at the same time, the French press cried scandal at the motives of the young players. Moriba did not appreciate the criticism.
“I was shocked! They wrote that I was given a house over there, but that was wrong! I was accused of selling my child!”
Shouting from the balcony
Moriba said she always encouraged her sons to play football.
Paul Pogba was always the most talented but all three were also good table-tennis players.
“They’ve always played football, always. I used to have to call then four, five times,” she said.
“I’d shout from the balcony: ‘Come home! It’s time’.”
Yeo broke out into laughter again, before adding with a more serious tone: “I’ve made a lot of sacrifices for my children.
“(Football) counted a lot in their education because it calmed them down.”
“My boys were always moving, they moved too much! When they came back from sport they were exhausted.”
Now the family’s future is secure. Paul Pogba has been linked to huge transfers to Spain and even back to Manchester United, now under Jose Mourinho.
Florentin plays for Saint-Etienne in the French top flight while Mathias is at Partick Thistle in Scotland. The twins both play for Guinea, their parents home and where they were born, although they grew up in the Paris suburbs.
Moriba keeps a special eye on her youngest son and his image.
Paul has made a name for himself almost as much for his extravagant hairstyles as his football ability.
“Paul’s haircuts, that comes from me, I change mine all the time,” she said in another explosion of satisfied laughter.