Bilic hails 'amazing' Payet

  • Slaven Bilic hails performance of West Ham United star Dimitri Payet against Romania
  • Hammers boss says Payet was best player on the pitch and scored an 'amazing' goal
  • Bilic claims the midfielder 'forced' France coach Didier Deschamps to pick him
Slaven Bilic hailed Dimitri Payet after his West Ham United charge produced a ‘Man of the Match’ performance to fire France to a 2-1 UEFA Euro 2016 Group A win over Romania.

Payet lit up the Stade de France with a fine assist for Olivier Giroud and sensational 89th-minute winner from 30 yards, but it was his all-round contribution that impressed his Club manager most.

The Hammers boss watched the game closely as part of the ITV broadcasting team in the French capital, where he also created headlines with his insightful punditry, among other things!

“Dimi would be man of the match anyway (before the goal),” said Bilic, who explained how important Friday’s game was to Payet, who forced his way back into the France set-up during a sensational debut season in Claret and Blue.

“He was the best man on the pitch, not just his assist but also his skill.

“Sometimes it doesn't produce a lot of things, but the things he did on the halfway line that lift the crowd and the team and everything. The goal was amazing and of course we are very glad for him.

“It was a big-time emotional game for him, because he has proved himself in England, but he needed to do that extra thing for France in a competitive game.”
He was the best man on the pitch, not just his assist but also his skill
While he had been capped previously, Payet lost his place in the national-team set-up in recent years, despite his outstanding form for former club Marseille.

However, a combination of his own wonderful displays for West Ham and the absence of Franck Ribery, Mathieu Valbuena and Karim Benzema from the squad gave Payet the opportunity he needed.

On Friday, he took that opportunity in the full glare of European football, producing a virtuoso performance in a midfield and attack that included a host of big names.

“He’s a great player and it’s great for West Ham that he is our player,” said Bilic. “He just forced the coach to put him in. Don’t forget that in Brazil in the World Cup, everyone was saying something positive about France, that it was a new France and all that, but he lost his whole attack – Ribery, Valbuena, Benzema.

“He had to find new ones, so I really don’t think Payet is a perfect player on paper for Deschamps, who likes players who run behind, but Payet with his unbelievable ability and unbelievable season forced him [to pick him].

“I’m not just talking about the free-kicks, it’s more than that. The amount of influence he can have on Giroud and Griezmann and especially Matuidi and Pogba, who are great at running without the ball into the box like Frank Lampard did, with his passing, he is their main player. He forced Deschamps to put him in the team.”