The Big Interview - Dimitri Payet (Part One)

In Part One of our exclusive interview, Dimitri Payet talks about his memorable free-kicks and his strong character

Dimitri Payet is loving life at West Ham United and is now producing the best football of his career.

The French superstar has become a cult hero at the Boleyn Ground this season and has been one of the the star performers in his first year in the Premier League.

Payet has shown his quality throughout the season and is now regarded as one of the best free-kick takers in the world after scoring another wonder goal against Crystal Palace last weekend.

In Part One of our exclusive interview with West Ham TV, Payet talks about his memorable free-kicks over the last few months and reveals the strong character which has made him the player he is today.


Only one place to start. The West Ham fans were once again treated to another piece of magical skill when you scored a superb free-kick against Crystal Palace on Saturday. Can you quite believe you are scoring these amazing set-pieces at the moment?

DP: “I am enjoying a very good period at the moment in terms of free-kicks. I am full of confidence and that allows me to try out these new things.

“The ball seems to be going in at the moment which is great for all of us.”


Against Bournemouth, Blackburn, Manchester United and for France against Russia last week you put the ball to the left of the keeper but against Crystal Palace you decided to put the ball in the opposite corner. What made you decide to do that?

DP: “I was quite lucky against Palace as I did have one free-kick earlier in the game then went over but I saw that the keeper had moved slightly over to the other side so when I had another free-kick I decided to slightly change it and that was a good choice.”


We have a video from a supporter behind the goal which shows how the ball dipped and curled into the top corner. How did you manage to do that?

DP: “I didn't specifically hit it trying to get that effect on the ball, but I did hit the ball very hard and knew if the keeper had moved over to the other side he would not have time to get back.

“But I must say I was surprised by how the ball travelled and usually I can tell when I hit the ball if it is going to go in and I can sometimes celebrate before hand, but with this one I thought it was initially going over but it then dropped in.”


We have seen plenty of your celebrations following the Palace goal and you have posted one on your Instagram account. Why did that goal mean so much to you?

DP: “I was very happy with the goal. It has been a while since I last scored at home and I really wanted to celebrate with the fans.

“It also put us into a 2-1 lead and that is why I wanted to celebrate with the home supporters.”

Out of the free-kicks you have scored this season do you have a favourite this season?

DP: “Well my favourite goal would have to be for France against Russia as it was particularly special because it was my birthday and it was also the furthest out on the pitch.

“The trajectory of the ball was similar to the one I scored against Manchester United and I think it was a beautiful goal.”


Do you practise free-kicks?

DP: “I worked very hard on taking them earlier in the season up until the Bournemouth game when I scored.

“Since that game I have not been practising as I have been happy with the way I am hitting the ball so I am carrying on with that technique and now I just take a few before each game when I am warming up.”


When you were growing up on the island of Reunion how often did you use to play with the ball and were you out playing football every day after school?

DP: “It wasn't just after school. I was also playing football at school as well and any chance I would get to play at the break time we would get a ball and play with friends.

“Before school if possible we play as well. Sometimes we would get told off for playing too much!”


You have talked about being laid back. How much is that from your upbringing and being brought up on an island?

DP: “We have the beach and La Reunion is an island. The sun shines all year round which makes life fantastic and makes the people quite cool.

“Everyone enjoys life over there. We have a very strong character and a very strong feeling of motivation for people to achieve what they want to achieve.”


That strong feeling that you talk about, with what happened to you when you moved to France at the start of your career, do you think that made you the player and person that you are today?

DP: “Of course having a strong character has helped me. For me I find it very hard to swallow failure and that is why I have worked so hard to get over the moments of failure I have had.

“That is something I have done throughout my career and will be something I will continue to do.”


When you played at Lille and Marseille and were featuring alongside players such as Hazard and Ayew, do you feel that has made you the player that you are today?

DP: “Well of course those players have helped me and I have been helped by the top players at all the clubs I have played for.

“When you are playing with such good players it does make things easier but I also feel that you can learn new things at all ages and at all times from the younger and older players.

“That is what football is all about – getting the best out of everyone and working hard.”


You are playing at the top of your game and are one of the best players in the Premier League at the moment. Do you feel you are showing your maturity and producing your best form?

DP: “I would say that I have been consistent and I have carried on my form from Marseille last season.

“My maturity has helped me see things differently at the age of 29 and this has been the best season of my career so far.”