Paul Pogba reveals all to Thierry Henry ahead of Manchester United debut

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Paul Pogba reveals all to Thierry Henry ahead of Friday Night Football. Watch build-up from 6.30pm on SS1.

In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports' Thierry Henry, Paul Pogba opens up about returning to Manchester United, Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex...

Ahead of the first Friday Night Football of the season at Old Trafford, with Manchester United hosting Southampton, Henry quizzed compatriot Pogba on everything from his former manager to burning ambition to win the Ballon d'Or. 

The 23-year-old, signed for a world-record £89m earlier this month, did not hold back with his answers...

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Jeff Stelling and Rachel Riley help build Zlatan Ibrahimovic's face out of Manchester United and Southampton shirts ahead of Friday Night Football.

Remember, you can watch Friday Night Football from 6.30pm on Sky Sports 1, and Sky Sports customers can sign in to watch in-game clips from Old Trafford.

Jeff Stelling and Rachel Riley will be joined at Sky Studios by Henry, Jamie Redknapp, Jamie Carragher and Ryan Giggs.

Thierry: Let's start at the start. Obviously you left Manchester United as a youngster, and you're now back as the most expensive player in the world. Why are you coming back? Why United?

Pogba: I always loved United to be honest. I left because I wanted to play and wanted to show the world, to show United, that I was ready to play and motivated to play.

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Paul Pogba, pictured here in action during an under-18 match against Manchester City, made just three senior appearances for Manchester United
Image: Pogba left United for Juventus in 2012

I went to Italy and did my years there. This comeback shows that I left United, but a part of my heart was still here. I didn't finish my work here, so I came back here to help the team as much as I can, and to win. I came to make United win again.

It's very brave for you to come back here, and show that maybe there was unfinished business. There's a personal thing I wanted to ask you. I saw you play at the Euros as a holding midfielder, and I like the fact you did it for the team, because it was very important. But where do you feel most comfortable on the field?

I would say midfielder on the left. If you play a three I can play on the right of left, but I feel more comfortable to play on my left.

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I can do it [holding midfielder], but I feel more comfortable a bit higher.

Who inspired you? I'm sure you're going to say your family, but I'm talking more about a sportsperson. Mine was Marco van Basten. Apart from my Dad, he was the one I was looking up to.

A lot of players like Ronaldinho, the Brazilian Ronaldo, Kaka, Zidane, Iniesta, Yaya Toure, Vieira. I try to take all the best of them and make Pogba.

Zinedine Zidane of France celebrates after scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot during the 2006 World Cup
Image: Pogba says he wants to take the best in his heroes, and make himself

What will be a successful season for you at United?

Win the league, the perfect thing, win the cup, and win the Europa League too. That would be perfect. I think we are trying to go back to basics at United, and to win the league. After that we would go back into the Champions League.

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I want to know about the real Pogba, the one who hangs around with his brothers, his mum. Who is the real Pogba?

The real Pogba is the one you see every time. When I'm off the pitch I cannot act, I'm not an actor, and when I'm on the pitch I like to joke and laugh, and off the pitch I'm the same. For me I'm normal, I play football and do what I love. I just love life. We are lucky to play football, everyone is watching us, it's unbelievable how many people come and shout your name. You cannot be sad.

I've been watching you [Thierry], I am still watching you. I say this, and it's the truth, I had your poster in my room, and it's crazy, now you're in front of me talking and it's crazy.

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Paul Pogba shows off his new Manchester United-themed haircut ahead of his Premier League debut.

You made us proud at the Euros. But what was your feeling after losing the final?

First of all I hate losing. When you lose, in France, against Portugal, with the way they started the Euros, but that's football. We were all sad, we couldn't believe it. I think our mistake was that we thought we were going to win it.

Everything was too perfect. We were like: 'Guys, this is our turn, we cannot lose.' But we lost because of some details.

A lot of players like Ronaldinho, the Brazilian Ronaldo, Kaka, Zidane, Iniesta, Yaya Toure, Vieira. I try to take all the best of them and make Pogba.
Paul Pogba

Big details. People were happy when Cristiano Ronaldo left the field, I was unhappy. It gives the team a lift, and they were a bit more safe and sound in terms of defending. It's weird to say that, we are talking about one of the best players in history, but sometimes it gives the other team a lift, and I didn't like it too much.

Is it true that you said you wanted to win the Ballon d'Or?

Yes! I've always dreamed of winning the Ballon d'Or.

So if I said to you, you can have an amazing career but you still don't win the Ballon d'Or. Is that going to bother you? Is it the thing that really drives you?

What keeps me going like this is objectives. I always have objectives. To win the Champions League, the league everywhere I go, and the dream is to win the Ballon d'Or. Maybe it will happen, maybe it will not, but I will go to try and achieve it.

Paul Pogba of France shows his dejection
Image: Pogba's France were beaten in the Euro 2016 final by Portugal

With the ability and the quality you have, I think it can actually happen. It's up to you and the team you have around you, but I think you can do that. You're a very humble guy.

How excited are you to play that first game at Old Trafford?

I cannot wait, I just cannot wait. I won't say anything else. I cannot wait to play with my new team and wear the shirt again. It will be a great feeling. I just can't wait.

You said you had to leave to make sure you could come back as a great player, but what do you have to say about Juventus?

Maybe some fans will take it the wrong way, some people will understand some will not, but I want to thank them. They trusted me; they helped me to be who I am. Tactically I've learned a lot, and to attack too. I was with Juve when I went in the national team. They really helped me, and I have big thanks for them. They will always stay in my heart.

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Jose Mourinho confirms Paul Pogba will play in Manchester United's Premier League match against Southampton on Friday.

Now that you're back here, the manager is not the same. How is it with Jose Mourinho?

It's been great, I came here and trained hard. They made me train alone because I didn't play the first game. They made me run, and I really like this because I'm used to this at Juve. Physically and mentally I feel great. The training has been good. I've touched the ball a lot too, I wasn't used to this anymore. The training is perfect.

Was Mourinho a big factor in your decision?

He helped with things. You see a big coach like him, who has done a lot and has won everything, and when he comes here and wants to go back to winning. 

I played four years in Italy, if he'd come two years after I'd left [United], maybe I wouldn't have come, I would have stayed at Juve.

I think it was the right time for him to come, and for me to come back.

How excited are you to play with Zlatan Ibrahimovic?

It's always good to play with big players. I was lucky, I played with top players at Juve too. If you have big players in your team, big talented players, you can achieve what you want.

Jose Mourninho faced Sir Alex Ferguson in the Premier League and Champions League
Image: The 23-year-old says he has nothing but respect for Sir Alex Ferguson

I actually do think that Zlatan is funny…

He loves to joke. Every time I see him he has to say something about my shoes, my hair, and the way he talks too! Today I was training, and he was laughing about my combo when I was boxing on Instagram, he said: 'What is this?! You have to give one punch, that is it!'

Obviously, being here there is something we cannot avoid talking about, Sir Alex Ferguson. Even if you're a Liverpool fan, or Arsenal, you've got big respect for the guy.

Big respect. He's the greatest manager in football. Everyone can see that. I don't have any problems with him, the only problem maybe is that I wanted to play. Maybe to him it was too early, and to me it was too late, I was ready, and that's it.

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Otherwise he was a great manager, he came and talked to me and gave me confidence. What more can I ask? I've learned a lot from him too. I respect him and will always respect him, and I hope to meet him again.

Watch the interview on Friday Night Football on Sky Sports 1 from 6.30pm, or On Demand throughout the weekend

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