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France´s best player? Not me, says Payet

Dimitri Payet has dismissed claims he has become France’s most important player and still believes Les Bleus will need to count on Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann in the latter stages of Euro 2016.

West Ham forward Payet has made a stunning contribution so far, scoring a spectacular late winner against Romania in the tournament opener before netting again, and turning in a man-of-the-match performance, in their 2-0 victory over Albania in Marseille.

With qualification secured, he was rested for the goalless draw with Switzerland on Sunday but still came closest to breaking the deadlock from the bench with a volley that hit the underside of the bar.

In contrast, Pogba and Griezmann were dropped by Didier Deschamps for the Albania game and widely criticised for their performances.

Payet, however, insists the Juventus and Atletico Madrid stars should still be regarded as France’s go-to men.

Asked if he was France’s best player, Payet told UEFA.com: “No, it’s not me. People will still talk about Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba.

“We saw them in the game against Switzerland, and they are the ones to be counted on. We need those two players. They can guide us through and deep into the competition.”

Payet has been pleased with his efforts so far, however, adding: “Since the start of the tournament I have felt really good. I am feeling confident and that’s allowed me to play without pressure and to put in good performances.

“In all honesty, the goal that will really stick in my mind is the one I scored against Romania. It was a really difficult game and the goal came in the final minute, so it was really a great relief. It will remain one of my most unforgettable memories.

“I can still get better. If I was going to be picky, then I would say to myself that my shot that hit the bar against the Swiss shouldn’t have hit the woodwork – it should have gone in.”

Payet reserved special praise for France boss Deschamps, who captained France to their 1998 World Cup success, a tournament they also staged.

“When things are going well on the pitch, it is because I know I have the coach behind me,” said Payet.

“The fact he has won everything going is the advantage that he brings us. He knows exactly what it takes to win, as he has been there before and we know how precious his advice is, and how much more so that will be as the tournament goes on.”

Tue 21 Jun, 2016
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