Pogba draws inspiration from sporting legends

Thursday 29 April 2021 08:00

Paul Pogba has revealed which sportsmen have inspired him with their winning mentality and desire to always be the best.

The Manchester United midfielder, hoping to help the Reds take a step towards another Europa League final with victory over Roma at Old Trafford on Thursday night, is a fan of a range of sports and not just football.

Tom Brady is a giant of US sport and still going strong in his forties.

Knowing what it takes to succeed at the top of the game, the World Cup-winner believes he can learn from the mental fortitude of global names such as American Football star Tom Brady, boxers Mohammad Ali and Mike Tyson and basketball icon Michael Jordan.

Quarterback Brady won the Super Bowl for the seventh time, at the age of 42 in February, when Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat Kansas City Chiefs. It prompted a post on social media from Pogba and he has now provided an explanation about his appreciation for the achievement.

"I think that all sports have aspects in common, and mental strength is one of them," he explained in an interview with UEFA. "What you see from the outside is that athletes earn bags of money and that they’re famous and recognised all over the world, but what you usually don’t see is the work that they put in off the pitch, and that’s the most important aspect to me. You don’t see their family problems or their everyday problems either.

“They still manage to be on the pitch, to perform well and to be the best; they manage to keep working and be the best for another two, three, even 10 years, or throughout a whole career.

“That’s what mental strength is, and that’s what all sportspeople and I can draw inspiration from. Tom Brady was just an example to really show people that, despite his age, he was still up to the challenge. He changed franchises but still won, which means that it’s possible to do so; wanted to show people that you could still succeed after changing clubs. He never gives up.

"I have another example of a personal inspiration for me: Michael Jordan," he continued. "I think that most of us already know his story, and his leadership and work ethic really have been an inspiration to me.

“You also have to be selfish, so to speak, because you have to be at least a little bit selfish and think of yourself in order to be the best. That means that, after a training session, if your friends call you to go out, you need to think of yourself, refuse it and go and train more instead.

“You want to take the last shots, like [Michael Jordan] did, and you always want to win. That requires extraordinary mental strength, and it’s a great source of inspiration for me. Muhammad Ali is also an inspiration for me. In his day, he was one of the youngest heavyweights – just like Mike Tyson after him – to be crowned world champion. All of those people are inspirations because of their daily work ethic.

“They push themselves. They might fall or lose, but they keep going, they come back stronger and they never give up. That’s important to me.”