EURO 2016 spotlight: How brilliant was France's Dimitri Payet?
Friday, April 24, 2020
UEFA.com reflects on Dimitri Payet's performances at UEFA EURO 2016, where he helped the hosts France to the final.
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A tournament at home while thriving in England's Premier League, UEFA EURO 2016 was when the stars seemed to align for Dimitri Payet, and he was one of the stars as France just came up short.
• After a superb season with West Ham United, Payet was a shoo-in for a spot in the squad, handed the No8 shirt by France coach Didier Deschamps.
• The tournament opener against Romania was just his 20th cap for Les Bleus, having made his debut almost six years earlier.
• He was man of the match in the opening game, setting up the opener for Olivier Giroud before scoring a magnificent winner a minute from time.
• France once more left it late against a determined Albania in their second game, but again Payet was man of the match, his goal six minutes into added time completing a 2-0 win.
• Another goal and an assist in the quarter-final against Iceland helped put France into the last four and it was clear by now that it was a virtual two-horse race between Payet and Antoine Griezmann to be named player of the tournament.
• In the end, with France beaten in the final by Portugal after extra time, it was Griezmann who was the official player of the tournament, but Payet was rewarded for his consistent brilliance with top spot in UEFA's Player Barometer rankings.
What you might not know
• Payet was the player involved in the challenge with Cristiano Ronaldo in the final which led to the Portuguese superstar's early substitution.
• Payet was born on the French Island of Réunion, which is found to the east of Madagascar off the coast of Africa. It is, officially, part of France and the island's top team, JS Saint-Pierroise – who Payet represented in his youth – reached the last 32 of the French Cup in 2020.
• Seventeen of Payet's 38 caps for France to date came in the calendar year of 2016 – as did seven of his eight international goals.
• After returning to Marseille in 2017, Payet helped them to the 2018 UEFA Europa League final and was the top assist provider in the competition with eight. He suffered an injury in OM's final loss to Atlético Madrid – in which his France team-mate Griezmann scored twice – and has not played international football since.
• His three goals made Payet one of six players to finish equal second in the goalscoring charts. Griezmann topped the chart with six.
What he said
"At the start of the season, a lot of people would have found it hard to believe I would be here. I have got here by working hard and want to soak up the experience."
"When I saw the stadium tonight I knew I was going to have fun. There was a lot of stress, a lot of pressure. If someone had told me it would have gone like that I wouldn't have believed it."
"I try to put on a show while being effective because the spectators come to be entertained by beautiful play."
What they said
"He's an attacking player but he's also someone who helps out the team. It's quite easy in football when you can bang it in the top corner – it solves quite a lot of problems!"
France coach Didier Deschamps after the win against Romania
"Payet just let people know he is a game-changer on the world stage."
Former England defender Rio Ferdinand
"My dad takes the best free-kicks in the world!"
Payet's son Noa, then seven, before UEFA EURO 2016
International: 38 appearances, 8 goals
UEFA club competition: 47 appearances, 8 goals
Domestic competition: 537 appearances, 116 goals