Dimitri Payet is enjoying a memorable first season in England and has been rewarded for his impressive displays after being nominated for the PFA Player of the Year. The French star has wasted no time becoming a cult hero with the West Ham United fans and is rated one of the best free-kick takers in the world.
Payet is determined to help the Hammers push for a European place come the end of the season and also hopes to have a memorable summer by being named in the France squad for the European Championship Finals.
You must be slightly frustrated after Sunday’s match against Leicester when we fell just short of beating the Premier League leaders at their ground?
DP: “We are frustrated by the last moments of the game. But, if we are honest, we know that we needed to get the ball clear and we would then have avoided any doubt in the referee’s mind and wouldn’t have given away the penalty. It was a bit scrappy in the midfield and the sending off helped us and gave us a boost and allowed us to go on and grab the equaliser. I think where we are today, it is Leicester’s title to win now.”
Did you find it difficult to get over the disappointment of the elimination from the FA Cup last week?
DP: “We were disappointed after the defeat against Manchester United. Continuing in the cup was one of our objectives for the last few weeks of the season, and so to go out was frustrating. There is an element of the last few games catching up with us, following a series of very tough games. We have the Watford game and then we have some time that we can use to recharge our batteries.”
How does it feel to have been nominated for PFA Player of the Year in your first season in England?
DP: “There is a lot of quality on the list and just to be nominated is really something special. Some people thought that it was a slightly bizarre decision to come to West Ham, but like I have done in all the clubs I have played for, I have improved and taken my game to the next level.”
How are you enjoying life here at West Ham?
DP: “I have worked very hard and now I am reaping the rewards and enjoying my time here. I am making the most of every moment here as things are going well. The fans here are great, there are lots of things being created for me. Some t-shirts with the song they sing about me which is really nice. It’s touching to have been welcomed so nicely and the love the fans give me is absolutely incredible.”
With the performances on the pitch both in claret and blue and for the French team, do you think you are you having the best season of your life?
DP: “I have built on what I did last year with Marseille, with maybe a bit more coverage this season because I am now playing in the Premier League. I managed to reproduce what I have done with West Ham when I was playing for France last month and I feel that I am in the best form of my life. My job now is just to make sure that this form lasts for as long as possible.”
What role has the manager played in your form this season?
DP: “He has of course been really important to my form this year. I have to say that without my teammates, I wouldn’t be able to flourish on the pitch as I have done and so it is really a combination of several elements. I am grateful to all the staff at Marseille and all of the other coaches who have helped me get to where I am today.”
Have you already started thinking ahead to the exciting summer you will be having with the national side in Euro 2016?
DP: “No, I am still fully focussed on my game here. We have had game after game in the past few weeks. There are too many important things to think about before then, with so many games that can have an impact on a final position in the League.”