When West Ham signed Dimitri Payet last summer for a reported £11.25 million, many supporters were left asking ’who?’
After an incredible debut season in England where he scored 12 goals, Payet earned himself a call-up for France’s Euro 2016 campaign.
Having to compete with the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Kingsley Coman and Anthony Martial for a starting place, many believed Payet may have to make do with a place on the bench for the tournament’s opener against Romania.
SIGN UP NOW
Want to become a GMS writer? Sign up now and submit a 250-word test article: http://gms.to/haveyoursay4
Article continues below
However, the 29-year-old was given the nod and repaid Didier Deschamps’ faith in him with an outstanding performance.
Payet was dangerous throughout the 90 minutes and capped off his display with a stunning 89-minute winner with his left-foot to earn the hosts a 2-1 victory.
Article continues below
While everyone had seen Payet take the Premier League by storm, doing it on the international scene is something entirely different. However, there is one man who was convinced that he was going to produce the goods on Friday night.
That man was his club manager - Slavan Bilic - and the Croatian revealed what he text Payet before the match.
Bilic on Payet
"Before France played Romania on Friday night, I texted Dimitri Payet to wish him all the best. The text read: 'Enjoy it, you have nothing to prove, you are the best player there,” he wrote in his Daily Mail column.
“I wasn't wrong, was I? He was fantastic, not only with his late match-winning goal but overall. France were playing everything through him.
“When he was on the left side they attacked on that side — when he went into the middle they did the same.
“It is incredible how, in this strong French team, most of the players, when they had the ball, were looking for Dimitri. It's amazing, particularly because he hasn't been a regular for the French team. He had to prove himself.
“He got his chance because of his brilliant season at West Ham. We are proud he is at our club — and, yes, he has a long contract!”
Can West Ham keep hold of him?
West Ham fans must still struggle to believe how they managed to capture someone of Payet’s ability for a relatively low price. With his contract not expiring until 2021, Hammers fans are safe in the knowledge that this world-class player is set to remain at their club for plenty more years to come.
However, if he continues to perform like he did against Romania for the remainder of Euro 2016, don’t be surprised to see European giants interested in signing him this summer.