Whether with France at the Under-17 finals or with Juventus in the UEFA Champions League final, Paul Pogba's uncompromising approach has never once wavered.
Article top media content
"Work hard and never give up," says Paul Pogba. It is a refreshing and humble attitude from a player who at just 23 has already achieved so much. From being voted the best young player at the 2014 FIFA World Cup to appearing in his first UEFA Champions League final last year, Pogba's rise has been swift, but he remains firmly grounded.
"It's true I've improved a lot over the last few years," the Juventus player adds. "I think it's because I'm surrounded by great players who are humble, hard workers who make you work hard too. Players like Gigi Buffon or Andrea Pirlo. They are my role models. I want to do what they have done."
That drive is a key component in Pogba's make-up. Put in the effort, play your heart out, learn from the experience and then improve on it. It was instilled in him as a young player, and reinforced when picked to represent France at the 2010 UEFA European Under-17 Championship in Liechtenstein.
"It's a great memory, playing in that EURO against England, Spain, some big nations. It was a good experience for a young player. We lost but I learned a lot. It helped me grow. It was always a dream of mine to wear that shirt and to play for my country, for the French national team."
Pogba scored twice in that competition, against Portugal in the group stage and then in the 2-1 semi-final loss to eventual champions England. That defeat seems painful even now. "We were upset, gutted, so I said: 'We need to win the next one, win the next one.'"
It is a mantra Pogba still lives by – and he is quick to pass on that positivity to the players following in his footsteps in Azerbaijan this summer. "Never give up and give everything," he says. "Realise your dreams. You must believe in them until the end."
This article also appears in the official UEFA European Under-17 Championship final tournament programme. Download your copy.